Selling clothes had been in the genes of sportswear distributor Broder Bros. for years. Begun as a haberdashery in 1919, the company evolved from making hats and gloves into a leading distributor of imprintable sportswear, distributing 40,000-plus SKUs across more than 40 retail brands, including adidas Golf, Champion, Russell Athletic, alternative, Dickies, and private labels. It operates under the Broder, Alpha, and NES divisions. Private labels include Devon & Jones, Chestnut Hill, and Harriton. Customers, mostly small US retailers, order merchandise through seasonal catalogs or online. Private investment firm Bain Capital has held a majority interest in the company since 2000, when the Broder family sold the company.
Based in Pennsylvania, Broder Bros. boasts the industry's largest distribution network. It provides its products to customers across the continental US.
Broder Bros.' business comprises eight distribution facilities nationwide, as well as 10 Express locations that offer pickup services to customers. Express facilities ship through ground parcel service to more than 80% of the continental US population within one business day and to more than 98% of the continental US population within two business days.
Its two primary markets are imprintable sportswear and accessories. Typically, undecorated or blank items, such as sweatshirts, polo shirts, fleece, outerwear, caps, bags, and other imprintable accessories are bought from Broder Bros. and decorated for the purposes of advertising and promotion. Decorator customers are offered value-added merchandising, marketing, and promotional support to help them grow their businesses.
Sales and Marketing
The company, which caters to more than 70,000 customers, relies on a handful of suppliers such as Gildan, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom.
In general, Broder Bros. clients include advertising specialty companies, screen printers, embroiderers, and specialty retailers that purchase Broder Bros. products (blank T-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts, outerwear, caps, bags, and more) to embellish for their own clients. Broder Bros. distributes popular brands such as Anvil, Jerzees, Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Gildan.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Looking to post more than $900 million in sales and $50 million in pro forma EBITDA in 2013, Broder Bros. bought Denver-based Imprints Wholesale, one of the top wholesale clothing distributors in the Rocky Mountain region. The deal is Broder Bros.' first acquisition since 2006 and first since private investment firm Littlejohn & Co. took over control of the board of directors in mid-2012.
Broder Bros. has seen its business pick up on the heels of a tough selling environment. One way it has turned its business around is by ensuring that it had in stock the most popular products while it rebuilt its inventory of proprietary brands. It also strengthened its commitment not to be undersold by rivals. To ensure that its dozen distribution centers were bustling with business, Broder Bros. also recruited a senior sales and marketing executive to review and fine-tune how the company sells its products, help to decide which product assortment is ideal going forward, and figure out how to attract a wider customer base from the imprintable sportswear market.