November 16, 2012

Changes afoot for Cole Haan

Nike Inc. announces it has agreed to sell Cole Haan to private equity firm Apax Partners for $570 million.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Nike Inc. said it agreed to sell Cole Haan, the Scarborough-based maker of shoes and accessories, to private equity firm Apax Partners for $570 million.

click image to enlarge

The Cole Haan facility at 6 Ashley Drive in the Roundwood Business Park in Scarborough is shown Friday. Nike Inc. announced it has agreed to sell the maker of shoes and accessories to a private equity firm.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

The sneakers, clothing and sports gear maker said in May that it wanted to sell the leather shoe division and its Umbro soccer jersey brand as part of its plan to cut costs and focus on its core brands: Nike, Jordan, Converse and Hurley. In October, Nike agreed to sell Umbro to the Iconix Brand Group for $225 million.

Nike acquired Cole Haan in 1988 for about $95 million. Cole Haan moved its headquarters to Scarborough last summer, after about 35 years in Yarmouth. The acquisition of Cole Haan moved Nike into upscale leather goods and away from its core athletic niche.

Cole Haan traces its roots to Chicago in 1928, when it was making flapper-friendly leather shoes.

Cole Haan's corporate headquarters is in the Roundwood Business Park in Scarborough.

The company has about 100 employees in Scarborough, according to the Scarborough Economic Development Corp., which said it had not yet heard details of Apax's plans for Cole Haan. It had reached out to Cole Haan last year, but had not yet heard back.

"Of course we want that facility to stay here. We will do whatever we can to help," said Karen Martin, assistant director of the economic development group. "They are in a great space. We hope it can still be a part of their operations."

The number of Cole Haan employees in Maine has dwindled over the years. The company had 785 employees here in 1994, before it transferred customer service departments to Greenland, N.H. In 1999, it closed its Livermore Falls shoemaking plant.

Other footwear companies in Maine include L.L. Bean of Freeport, Perry-based Quoddy Trail Moccasins Co., Freeport-based Eastland Shoe Corp., Highland Shoe Co. of Brewer, Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters of Lewiston and Falcon Performance Footwear of Auburn. New Balance of Boston has a factory in Skowhegan.

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@mainetoday.com

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