Former Cheltenham Ladies College student sells sports brand for £296M

Sweaty Betty

Sweaty Betty, the phenomenally successful woman’s global fitness and lifestyle brand founded in 1998 by former Cheltenham Ladies College pupil Tamara Hill-Norton and her husband Simon, has been sold to Wolverine World Wide, an American company which operates one of the world’s largest portfolios of footwear and lifestyle brands, including Hush Puppies and Keds.

The sale valued the business at approximately $410 million( £296 million).

Sweaty Betty cultivated a loyal following through its high quality products (and yes, dear reader, this editor has a drawer full of their fabulous leggings and deploys them daily in her exercise routines).

Distributed around the world, more than eighty percent of the brand’s revenue currently comes through direct-to-consumer channels.

Blake W. Krueger, Wolverine’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The acquisition of Sweaty Betty complements our strategic shift over the last several years from a traditional footwear wholesaler into a consumer-obsessed, digital-focused growth company. It also gives us a leadership position in the growing women’s activewear category.

“Wolverine Worldwide has a long and successful track record of acquiring and building brands, including performance brands like Sweaty Betty, and we are thrilled to welcome them to our Company.”

Tamara Hill NortonTamara and Simon Hill-Norton, Founders of Sweaty Betty, said: “We founded Sweaty Betty in 1998 with the purpose to empower women through fitness, and today we are delighted to have found the right partner in Wolverine Worldwide, a company that is perfectly positioned to support the acceleration of our mission.

“We’re so proud to have built an incredible community of active women who inspire us daily and are excited to see this powerful and supportive community grow worldwide.”

“Sweaty Betty aligns perfectly with our strategic growth plan for Wolverine Worldwide, as we focus on growing digital channels, expanding our international footprint, and building our brand portfolio beyond footwear,” said Brendan Hoffman, President of Wolverine Worldwide. “Sweaty Betty’s expertise and focus on apparel, female consumers, and best-in-class digital execution has proven to be a winning combination. We are excited to support the brand’s continued growth while learning from its digital-first mindset and leveraging that strength across our portfolio.”

Sweaty Betty’s Chief Executive Officer, Julia Straus, will continue to lead the brand and will report to Hoffman.  She said: “Sweaty Betty has seen incredible growth over the past few years, and we are excited to further accelerate this growth as part of the Wolverine Worldwide family.

“From the moment I met the team at Wolverine Worldwide, I knew they were the right partner to support us in the next chapter of Sweaty Betty. Their portfolio of purpose-driven heritage brands, knowledge and expertise in building performance brands, robust international distribution, and supply chain expertise provides a strong platform to expand Sweaty Betty.”

Cheltenham Ladies College would appear to be hotbed for successful female designers including former pupils Amanda Wakeley, Katharine Hamnett and Lisa King.