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Winnebago acquires iconic recreational boat builder

Winnebago acquires iconic recreational boat builder

FOREST CITY, Iowa — Winnebago Industries has acquired Chris-Craft, an iconic recreational boat builder, from Stellican Ltd., which has owned Chris-Craft since 2001. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With a brand heritage that dates back to 1874, Chris-Craft is an industry leader in recreational boating craftsmanship and quality. The business is poised to leverage its strong brand reputation and drive future growth through the introduction of new models and product lines, category extension opportunities supported by increased production capacity and expanded dealer reach.

“Chris-Craft is an iconic, premium brand that shares many similarities with our own heritage Winnebago brand, including a commitment to providing customers with the highest quality products and services,” said Winnebago Industries President and CEO Michael Happe.

He added, “The company’s strong brand, high-quality product line and premium position in the marine market make Chris-Craft an attractive addition to our portfolio. Chris-Craft marks Winnebago’s first entry into the marine market, which we believe has significant runway for growth, with a large and increasing population of current and new boaters who enjoy extraordinary experiences on the water.”

Happe continued, “Importantly, this acquisition aligns with our strategic initiative to further diversify Winnebago Industries within the outdoor lifestyle market and gives us a strong base on which to consider building an additional revenue platform over time. We believe there will be synergies realized across our value chain and that the Chris-Craft business has material expansion opportunities available. Additionally, we see significant intersection between the RV and marine lifestyles and view marine as a natural adjacency to our existing outdoor lifestyle portfolio, with similar customer demographics and significant ownership crossover.”

He continued, “With a broader, more balanced portfolio of products uniquely positioned across the outdoor lifestyle and leisure travel industries, we expect to continue to drive improved profitability and shareholder value over the long term. We look forward to working with the talented Chris-Craft team and to welcoming them to the Winnebago family.”

“I am delighted that Chris-Craft has found an ideal partner in Winnebago Industries,” added Chris-Craft Chairman and Stellican Ltd. Founding Partner Stephen Julius. “Winnebago is a natural fit for Chris-Craft’s premium brand, with a similarly iconic brand, complementary cultures, and a shared dedication to design, craftsmanship, quality and customer service.”

Chris-Craft President Stephen Heese remarked, “We look forward to further developing our storied brand while leveraging Winnebago’s capital and resources to accelerate our growth and continue delivering an exceptional product experience for our dealers and customers.”

Transaction Details

• Chris-Craft is expected to be immediately accretive to Winnebago’s Fiscal 2019 EPS.
• Stephen Heese will continue to lead the Chris-Craft business as its President.
• Winnebago expects to maintain Chris-Craft’s Sarasota, Florida headquarters.
• Chris-Craft will operate as a distinct business unit within a new “Other” operating segment.

A slide presentation providing information about the acquisition is available on the Investor Relations page of the company’s website at http://investor.wgo.net.

Baird acted as financial advisor to Winnebago Industries and Faegre Baker Daniels acted as legal advisor.

SOURCE: Winnebago Industries press release

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About Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt is the editor in chief of RV Daily Report. She's been a writer/editor for more than 25 years, working in law enforcement, aviation, supply chain and now the RV industry. She's not a stranger to RVs, however. She grew up camping, and still camps as many weekends as she can every year.

One comment

  1. I like this, hopefully it will be a favorable outlook for Chris Craft as opposed to the demise of Sea Ray with it’s new ownership. Congratulations to Winnebago…please ensure this wonderful boat company continues it’s heritage as a distinctly American brand.

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