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Champion, the iconic sportswear brand with over a century of history, has found a new owner. Hanesbrands announced on Wednesday that it will sell Champion

to Authentic Brands Group in a deal valued at up to $1.5 billion, including performance incentives. Authentic Brands Group, known for owning popular brands such as Reebok, Forever 21, and Quiksilver, will now add Champion to its portfolio.

Hanes, primarily known for its underwear and basic clothing lines, has faced pressure from activist investors to streamline its operations and cut costs. The sale of Champion represents a strategic move for Hanes to refocus on its core product lines.

Founded in 1919, Champion has experienced a resurgence in popularity among Millennials and Gen Z, driven by a wave of nostalgia for retro sportswear brands. Despite this renewed interest, Champion faced significant challenges last year, with sales in the United States plummeting by 30%. Hanes attributed the decline to "challenging activewear apparel market dynamics" and excess inventory, which adversely affected profits.

The broader trend of reduced consumer spending on discretionary clothing has also impacted Champion's competitors, including Nike and Under Armour. Even Lululemon, known for its higher price points compared to Champion, has faced similar struggles.

For around 15 years, Champion produced an exclusive C-9 line for Target, but the contract ended in early 2020 as Target shifted its focus to its own private-label brands. Following the expiration of the Target contract, Champion began selling the C-9 line on Amazon.

The acquisition by Authentic Brands Group marks a new chapter for Champion, potentially allowing the brand to leverage Authentic's extensive market reach and brand management expertise. As Champion transitions under new ownership, the focus will likely be on revitalizing the brand and navigating the competitive activewear market. Photo by N509FZ, Wikimedia commons.