Dearfoams Parent RG Barry Gets New Majority Owner, Eyes Acquisitions

June 11, 2024
3 min read
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By Shoshy Ciment | @Shoshanaciment

The parent company to Dearfoams, Baggallini, Columbus Product Group and Planet A revealed it has been acquired by the Marubeni Growth Capital U.S. (MGCU) a subsidiary of the Tokyo-based Marubeni Corporation. MGCU is an initiative from Marubeni’s Next Generation Corporate Development Division, which focuses on growth opportunities in the consumer sector. The acquisition represents the inaugural investment for the Next Generation Corporate Development Division of Marubeni in the U.S.

Under the deal, which closed on June 4, 2024, Blackstone will completely exit its minority ownership position in RG Barry. Private equity firm Mill Road Capital will maintain a minority equity stake and MGCU will take on an undisclosed majority stake. (When Blackstone and Mill Road took RG Barry private in 2014, Mill Road owned 50 percent, Blackstone owned 48 percent and a consortium of institutional investors owned the remaining 2 percent of the company.)

According to RG Barry chief executive officer Bob Mullaney, the success of the company’s brands, combined with the uncharacteristically long-term investment of its prior investors, set the stage for RG Barry’s next step.

RG Barry was founded in 1947. A year later, the company established its name with Dearfoams, known for its foam-cushioned slippers. Since joining the company in 2017, Mullaney has orchestrated several changes within the organization, including opening an East Coast hub in fall 2021. He also helped the company launch an “Earth-first” sustainable platform in the fall and a new data-centric, artificial intelligence-powered methodology to focus on the consumer. In 2023, RG Barry launched its environmentally friendly shoe brand Planet A.

According to Mullaney, the acquisition will help fuel increase investments into RG Barry’s portfolio of existing brands. For example, Mullaney sees potential for Dearfoams to lean into its identity as a comfort brand outside of slippers and sees possible opportunities in adjacent categories like sleepwear, loungewear, pillows, pet beds, accessories and socks. He also plans to continue product expansion efforts via the Baggallini brand with backpacks and hands-free bag options.

Mullaney is also targeting inorganic growth opportunities via new acquisitions, which will likely live in the footwear space.

“Footwear is a leading possibility as one of the areas where we can continue to look at some brands to add to the portfolio,” Mullaney said, explaining how acquisition targets will needs to be additive to the company in terms of value and will also need to be a cultural fit.

As for Marubeni, RG Barry’s strong foundation in brand-building as well as its existing partnerships within sourcing, distribution and wholesale made the company a suitable partner for Marubeni expand its reach in the U.S. consumer market.

“We see a strong platform in terms of operational execution,” MGCU president Taylor Rettig told FN. “We understand the differentiation that scale gives to businesses.”