In one of the most significant acquisitions ever in the run specialty business, Fleet Feet is acquiring JackRabbit, the second-largest running specialty retailer in the U.S. The transaction is expected to close in early December 2021 and includes all JackRabbit locations across 15 states and its jackrabbit.com e-commerce business.
"This acquisition creates a nationally connected-and-supported network of 250 community-based retail stores, all poised to deliver an exceptional experience for customers, and I couldn't think of a better outcome for all involved," says Joey Pointer, CEO and president of Fleet Feet.
"We've reached this pivotal moment thanks to hard work by a lot of people; in particular, the work of the hundreds of JackRabbit employees across the country, who, like all of us in retail, have faced a lot of challenges over the past 18 months,” he adds. “On behalf of Fleet Feet's Store Support Team, store owners, operating partners, managers, outfitters and more, I welcome these employees to Fleet Feet and look forward to adding their passion, leadership and expertise to our brand."
Fleet Feet's acquisition of JackRabbit is the latest strategic investment the brand has made in its brick-and-mortar footprint this year. Over the past 10 months, Fleet Feet has acquired four franchise locations as a part of its succession plan for retiring owners; acquired FITNiche, a Central Florida independent running retailer with three locations; and, opened five new stores with an additional two stores planned to open by the end of the year.
JackRabbit, originally called the Running Specialty Group, was founded in 2011 as a specialty running store consolidation effort by The Finish Line. In 2017, affiliates of CriticalPoint Capital acquired JackRabbit and focused on accelerating omnichannel growth of the brand through a robust digital strategy.
With this transaction, Fleet Feet plans to bolster that omnichannel approach by infusing its brand experience at critical customer touchpoints.
At retail, Fleet Feet will incorporate the brand's fit id 3D foot scanning outfitting experience into all locations by the end of Q1 2022. Digitally, jackrabbit.com will redirect to fleetfeet.com as soon as the transaction finalizes in early December. Long-term, Fleet Feet will transition all JackRabbit branding to Fleet Feet by the end of 2022.
"We believe that with the right running partner, there's no limit to how far we can go," says Bill Kirkendall, CEO of JackRabbit. "In Fleet Feet, JackRabbit has found an incredible partner for the long haul that will benefit our brand, staff, customers and communities, and we can't wait to move forward together."
In addition to retail footprint growth, Fleet Feet's sales have grown, resulting in the brand's strongest performance in its 45-year history. Buoyed by strong consumer product demand and the brand's investments in its digital strategy, distribution capabilities and retail experience, August 2021 became the company's all-time highest sales month with system-wide sales up 34 percent year-over-year. Sales have remained strong throughout the third quarter, with combined brick-and-mortar sales up 33 percent and digital sales up more than 32 percent compared to Q3 2020.
Fleet Feet says it will share more information with customers over the next several weeks to ensure a seamless transition from JackRabbit to Fleet Feet.