New Balance is now neck and neck with Puma for third place in the global sportswear market, mainly as a result of its much stronger reputation in the US. Privately owned, it is the only major sportswear company to still make products in the US, where around 4m locally sold shoes are made or assembled. New Balance is best-known for running shoes, but the group has successfully entered several other US sports, such as baseball and basketball, and has expanded dramatically in international markets since 2013. It launched the New Balance brand into the global soccer sector for the first time in 2015, and now sponsors the national teams of Costa Rica and Panama as well as clubs including FC Porto of Portugal, Althletic Bilbao of Spain, FC Tokyo and AS Roma. However it lost Liverpool FC to Nike in summer 2020. Subsidiary brand Warrior Sports, acquired in 2004, already makes kit for several football clubs including Sevilla FC of Spain, while Brine is a specialist Lacrosse brand. In 2015, the company merged its casual shoe brands Dunham, Cobb Hill and Aravon, with rival Rockport, acquired from Adidas. The resulting Rockport Group is jointly owned by New Balance and Berkshire Partners private equity. The business was founded in Boston in 1906 by William Riley as the New Balance Arch Company, making arch supports for walking shoes. It moved into sports shoes in the 1930s, but has always specialised in more orthopedically designed products. The Trackster, for example, introduced in 1960, was the first performance running shoe sold in different widths as well as sizes. However by the late 60s the business had dwindled in size to just six employees. It was acquired in 1972 by entrepreneur Jim Davis, who rebuilt it by exploiting the huge emerging interest in recreational jogging. He continues to own and oversee it as chairman with his wife Anne, vice chairman. Joe Preston suceeded Rob DeMartini as CEO in 2018. As a private company New Balance doesn't publish financials, but sales are understood to have grown steadily in the later 2010s, peaking at $4.2bn for the year to June 2018. However, the Covid pandemic left a significant dent in performance in 2020, despite an admirable pivot by the company into new areas such as the production of protective facemasks. Revenues for ye 2020 were around $4.0bn.
Capsule checked 26th February 2021
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Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Feb 2018: Ads of the Week: "Fearlessly Independent Since 1906". Sportswear brand New Balance doesn't have the money to pay big endorsement fees so it has to try something a bit different to grab some limelight from Nike and Adidas. This new campaign, the first from new global agency VML, has a lovely down-home-and-dirty garageland feel to it. All goes to show that character sometimes beats style (and cash). We'll be honest: we haven't heard of any of the mostly American athletes featured apart from German soccer star-turned-manager Jurgen Klopp. We're hoping they're all a bit cooler over there than he is here in Europe.
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Jan 2015: Adidas Group confirmed the $280m sale of Rockport, the casual footwear brand that had been part of the Reebok business. The buyer is private equity firm Berkshire Partners, with backing from rival sportswear company New Balance. A newly independent Rockport Group will combine the existing Rockport brand with New Balance's Drydock casual footwear subsidiary, whose brands are Cobb Hill, Aravon and Dunham. Drydock's Bob Infantino becomes CEO of the new Rockport Group.
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