Manufacturing AUTOMATION

U.K. firm buys Canada’s Tilley Endurables

July 17, 2015
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Jul. 17, 2015 – Tilley Endurables, the manufacturer and retailer behind the iconic Tilley hat, has been sold to a subsidiary of U.K.-based private equity firm known for its investments in distressed companies.

Financial and other details of the sale to Re:Capital, the Canadian arm of Hilco Capital, were not disclosed.

Tilley Endurables, also known for its wide variety of travel wear and accessories, was founded by entrepreneur Alex Tilley in 1980. With products stocked in more than 2,500 stores worldwide, the company has long insisted that virtually all Tilley-branded products be made in Canada. An exception was socks, which are manufactured in the United States.

It is unclear if the new owners would be moving production out of Canada.


When Tilley, 77, announced earlier this year that he was putting the company up for sale, he said he hoped the buyers would maintain manufacturing operations in Canada, but conceded he would have no control over that. “I cannot say ‘stay in Canada,’” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press at the time. “But it would be foolish, in my opinion, to take the hat manufacturing outside of Canada.”

Unlike other players in the garment industry, Tilley resisted pressure to ship production overseas, with most production in the Toronto, Ont., area, along with contractors based in Nova Scotia, Quebec and British Columbia.

Paul McGowan, CEO of Re:Capital, praised Tilley in a statement Wednesday for having built “a great business and a very strong brand around phenomenal products over the last 30 years.”

In acquiring Tilley Endurables, Re:Capital takes on a company whose famously durable hats enjoy a fiercely loyal following, worn by everyone from ordinary people to the Canadian military and various celebrities, including British royalty.

Throughout the years, the Tilley hat has graced the heads of Prince Phillip, famed explorer Sir Edmund Hillary and Canadian soldiers during the Gulf War, who sometimes dyed the light coloured hat with coffee to make it more camouflaged.

Re:Capital’s past Canadian acquisitions have included HMV Canada in 2011 and Kraus Group, a flooring manufacturer and distributor, in 2012.

— With files from Brian McKenna, The Canadian Press

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