Industry News: Race Face owner Tutton buys Easton Cycling

Bell and Giro parent company spins off the last of its Easton holdings


Many credit Chris Tutton (right) with resurrecting the Race Face brand. The now dual-president hopes to better the fortunes of Easton Cycling as well. Photo courtesy of Easton Cycling.

The president of Canada-based Race Face Performance Products has announced the acquisition of Easton Cycling from newly named BRG Sports, parent of cycling brands Bell, Giro and Blackburn as well as football equipment maker Riddell.

Chris Tutton, the man who put together the deal to purchase then-bankrupt Race Face out of receivership in 2011, will now preside over both brands, presumably managing them strategically for maximum benefit.

“The Easton brand is synonymous with world class product,” said Tutton in a statement. “I am excited by the opportunity to renew the entrepreneurial roots of the brand and refocus on technology, quality and service.”

While Race Face and Easton Cycling now share a president, they will continue to operate as separate entities. Tutton says a shared resource agreement will be implemented to benefit both brands.

“The shared resources agreement will allow both companies to take precious resources spent on overhead and drive those dollars back into innovation in cycling,” said Tutton.

Despite apparent conflicts, Tutton is no stranger to representing both brands. Even after purchasing Race Face, he managed Easton’s OE sales as a contractor, despite products that overlapped in a number of categories, including handlebars, stems and more recently, wheels.

Under Tutton, Easton Cycling will invest in a California-based R&D service center which will house wheel service, wheel testing and the Easton engineering team. These resources are currently located in BRG’s Scotts Valley, Calif. headquarters, but there’s no word yet on the new facility’s exact location. Under the shared resource agreement, the recently-launched Race Face wheel program will also be developed and serviced from this facility.

Easton marketing, sales and customer service will relocate to the Race Face head office in Burnaby, British Columbia just outside Vancouver.

The sale effectively liquidates the Easton brand from the portfolio formerly known as Easton-Bell Sports. In February, Easton’s baseball and softball business was sold to rival Bauer Performance Sports for $330 million. The company also indicated the sale of Easton’s hockey business to a separate party was imminent, though no further details have been announced. Easton-Bell Sports was formed in 2006 when Easton and Bell Sports merged under private equity firm Fenway Partners.

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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