Sock Talk: Renfro Brands Sold, Balega Founders Exit

·3 min read

Socks continue to be popular among the fashion sector and two manufacturers have had significant changes in their operations.

Renfro Brands, a century-old manufacturer that holds licenses for well-known sock brands including Fruit of the Loom, Merrell and Polo, has been sold to The Renco Group, Inc. The purchase includes Loops & Wales, Renfro’s direct-to-consumer e-commerce site. Terms were not disclosed.

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“We actively pursued Renfro Brands as they are the clear leader within their category and are poised for continued growth,” said Ari Rennert, president of Renco Group. “With a unique combination of best-in-class owned and licensed brands, longstanding relationships with leading retailers, unparalleled development and supply chain capabilities, and a top-tier management team, Renfro Brands aligns with our values and represents the right opportunity to expand our portfolio.”

The plan is to continue to expand Renfro’s reach and diversify its portfolio by reinvesting in the business, Renco Group said. The existing management team, led by Stan Jewell, chief executive officer, will remain on board.

“As Renfro Brands enters its monumental hundredth year in business, we are thrilled by the opportunity to not only further invest in talent, performance marketing and technology but to also elevate our supply chain resilience through The Renco Group’s manufacturing experience,” Jewell said. “We are brand stewards and this acquisition strengthens our commitment to position brand management as one of our core competencies to create and drive more value internally and externally.”

Renfro is the sock licensee for more than 20 brands in the athletic, outdoor, work, wellness and fashion categories that are sold in retailers ranging from Macy’s, Walmart and Costco to Amazon. Since its founding in 1921, it has been credited with standardizing sock sizes and eliminating toe seams. It employs some 2,000 people.

Renco Group was founded in 1975 and is a family-owned investment holding company with more than $5 billion in revenues and 15,000 employees worldwide. Its holdings include mining and mineral recovery, defense equipment and automotive supplies.

In addition earlier this week, Balega International, a Durham, N.C.-based performance sock brand, said that its founders, Tanya and Bert Pictor, will exit the business on June 30. The Pictors sold Balega to Implus, a manufacturer of footwear accessories, hosiery and other products, several years ago but had remained with the brand.

As part of the succession plan, Jenna Campbell has joined the company as vice president category and brand development for performance hosiery and will oversee the Balega brand. Campbell had previously worked at Adidas and Merrell and also served as a consultant in the health care and wellness, lifestyle, sporting goods, outdoor and private equity industries. She will report to Ryan Cruthirds, chief global brand and category development executive.

Tanya Pictor said, “Jenna is an outstanding addition to the new Balega leadership team, bringing immense experience in apparel and footwear. We feel very fortunate to welcome Jenna to the business and we will be working to ensure a seamless transition of leadership as she assumes her new role.”

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