Dallas, TX – August 4, 2021 – Riata Capital Group (“RCG” or “Riata”), a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm, announced today that West Coast-based WSS (the “Company”), the nation’s leading Hispanic-focused specialty retailer of athletic, fashion, and work-related footwear and accessories, has reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by Foot Locker for $750 million. Since completing the recapitalization of WSS in late 2016, RCG has actively contributed considerable resources to help build and scale the WSS platform, generating significant growth in organic revenue and profitability over the course of the partnership.
RCG’s Co-Managing Partner Barron Fletcher, said, “At the inception of our investment, we saw enormous potential in the differentiated and community-oriented platform that Eric Alon had created and built to meet the needs of families predominantly in the underserved, high-growth Hispanic markets. WSS’s authentic, socially-conscious and community-oriented approach has resulted in rewarding outcomes for all stakeholders involved. We are proud to have worked with Eric, CEO Rick Mina, and the rest of the WSS team to expand WSS stores into more neighborhoods in both existing and new markets and to have contributed to the Company’s considerable value creation and strong value proposition for the families they serve.”
Since the completion of the 2016 recapitalization, WSS has achieved numerous key milestones, including:
• Doubling revenues and increasing EBITDA five-fold
• Successfully entering the Texas market with 14 stores to date
• Driving customer loyalty through community engagement and digital initiatives
• Forging strategic partnerships, including a strategic marketing partnership with the Dallas Cowboys Organization
Co-Managing Partner Jeff Fronterhouse of RCG, continued, “WSS’s success highlights our thematic investment approach and strong track record of building market-relevant, high-growth platforms in the Consumer, Business Services, and Healthcare Services sectors. Deploying both buy & build and organic growth strategies to accelerate growth, WSS is a great example of a very well executed organic growth strategy that dramatically increased financial performance and overall valuation. We look forward to deploying similar growth strategies to help founder-owned and closely-held businesses achieve their highest potential.”
Eric Alon, Founder and Executive Chairman of WSS, added, “Over the past five years, WSS has been able to accelerate our market leadership while staying true to our DNA and community-first, customer-focused approach. Throughout, we’ve benefited enormously from the strategic, operational and financial guidance from our partners at Riata. They have been great partners and their many contributions unquestionably led WSS to this milestone transaction with Foot Locker. Foot Locker will bring additional resources to help accelerate unit growth and execute on WSS’s mission. I am confident that WSS has found the right home with Foot Locker and look forward to its future success.”
WSS’s CEO, Rick Mina, concluded, “The Riata team significantly helped us solidify the WSS brand as the leading retail platform in our industry serving our core customer. We clearly established the right strategy to grow WSS when I joined the Company in December 2015, but we needed capital for growth potential. Given Riata’s success building Hibbett, Lids, Teavana and other successful growth companies, we knew they were the right team.”
Additional Transaction Information
The Transaction is expected to close late in the third quarter of 2021, subject to the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
Baird is serving as the lead financial advisor to WSS with respect to the Transaction. Morgan Stanley, Jefferies, and Credit Suisse are advising the Company with respect to public market alternatives. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips is serving as lead legal advisor to the Company along with Vinson & Elkins as a co-advisor.
About Riata Capital Group
Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies with a focus on three industry sectors: consumer, business services, and healthcare services. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Since 2016, RCG has closed over 100 acquisitions and invested approximately $470 million of equity capital. Over the course of their careers, the principals of RCG have led over 200 acquisitions representing over $4.8 billion in transaction value. The firm targets equity investments of $25-$150 million in companies with $5-$30 million of EBITDA. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm's core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs.
WSS is a premier footwear and apparel retailer in the U.S. doing business in inner-city, neighborhood-based stores. Consumers trust WSS for the best brands and largest selection of athletic, dress, fashion, work and casual footwear for the entire family. WSS’s large store format enables it to showcase thousands of styles from top name brands, which include Nike, Jordan, adidas, Vans, Converse, Puma, Reebok, Fila and Timberland, among others. In addition, WSS carries high quality private brands augmenting the breadth of selection to deliver amazing value to its customers. Founded in Southern California in 1984 by entrepreneur Eric Alon, WSS has grown to 93 stores primarily on the West Coast.
Disclosure Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements pertaining to Riata Capital Group’s private equity investment business. Other than statements of historical fact, all statements that address activities, events or developments that RCG anticipates will or may occur in the future are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and expectations for the future. Although we believe such estimates and assumptions to be reasonable, they are inherently uncertain and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that are beyond our control. RCG makes no guarantee that other investments made by the company will be successful. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.