XII Brands sold its apparel businesses; still looking to sell Aria Discs
September 13, 2023 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 0 comments
In another major ultimate apparel consolidation, Nebraska-based Disc Store has acquired multiple ultimate companies from XII Brands: Five Ultimate, VII Apparel Co., and Heckler Bags.
Over the last year, XII Brands — the parent company created by Todd Curran, the founder of VII Apparel Co. (formerly Savage Ultimate) — had quietly been looking for a buyer and found one in Disc Store, one of the industry’s biggest e-commerce companies.
“We came to the conclusion that it would be good for the Five and VII brands, as well as for Disc Store, if we took them over,” said Chris Whirrett, owner and founder of Disc Store.
Disc Store will hope to do more with the companies than XII Brands did: VII acquired Five Ultimate and Aria Discs from the Titcomb family in early 2020.
“Like everyone, our business was deeply affected by the pandemic,” said Curran. “What should have been our best year ever quickly turned into our worst as we realized we had to work to keep three businesses afloat through the pandemic instead of just one. Our team worked extremely hard to keep the businesses open despite endless challenges, even long after the rest of the world was putting their masks away. After those three challenging years and a lot of soul-searching, I decided, along with the other owners, that in order for the business to grow into its next phase, it needed a fresh dose of energy and ideas that only a new owner could bring.”
Five Ultimate was once one of the biggest ultimate apparel brands, particularly in the early 2010s. But the company waned in its presence among elite ultimate teams in recent years and suffered an embarrassing setback when the company, under XII ownership, failed to deliver jerseys to the USA National Team on time for the World Games and ultimately lost the contract with USA Ultimate to Spin Ultimate1 after holding it for many years. Disc Store hopes to “bring the Five jerseys back to prominence” with a redesigned fabric, Orca, that Whirrett says is like that of Patagonia’s old jerseys but capable of being fully sublimated. He said that they also want to recommit to supporting teams and attending events.
“The Five brand is amazing — but we felt they weren’t up to par lately with customer service,” he said. “So we wanted to take over that aspect of it even before fully taking over.” (Disc Store ran Five’s customer service for a couple of months before officially acquiring the company on August 31st.)
There have been multiple customer complaints about XII Brands in recent months, ranging from delayed order fulfillment to zero response to email inquiries.
“The problems we had this past season were mainly due to some challenges with our production partner who not only had to completely shut down because of a Covid outbreak, but also had to halt production because of the bridge collapse in Philadelphia,” said Curran. “This all happened while we were in the midst of our transition to new ownership and our staff had been reduced to only four full-time workers. Customer service took a big hit because we had to unexpectedly do a lot of production ourselves to try to keep up. It didn’t go well. This is just one of the reasons we’re so excited about Disc Store taking over. Their strong history of fulfillment success and customer service gives us confidence that they will quickly course correct and eliminate these kinds of problems in the future.”
Disc Store is also rolling out new fabric for VII Apparel Company’s jerseys and will look to renew its growth in ultimate and its push into disc golf.
Aria Discs, the only US-based competitor to Discraft, is still under XII Brands control, but Curran said that they are seeking a buyer. Whirrett said that they weren’t interested in Aria because “we have a great relationship with Discraft and feel like Discraft makes the best discs out there.”
Heckler Bags, a smaller company in the XII portfolio, was part of the deal with Disc Store.
Disc Store has historically been a small player in the team jersey market; this move could jumpstart them to a much bigger market share, particularly at the premium end of the market where they haven’t traditionally competed. The company is looking to return to having a presence on site at ultimate tournaments and eventually start bidding on merchandising contracts for larger scale USA Ultimate events.
Whirrett said that their supply chain is operational and that they are already taking orders for jerseys for both of their newly acquired brands, with sales incentives on offer.
who supplied backup jerseys for the USA National Team at the World Games ↩