Zebco brands sale confirmed by Rather Outdoors

Rather Outdoors, the firm which owns Lew‘s, Fox International and Salmo, has confirmed to TTW that it has acquired the portfolio of Zebco brands, which includes Zebco, Preston Innovations and many more.

While an official statement has yet to be released, Rather Outdoors’ CEO Ken Eubanks told TTW: “I can confirm that Rather Outdoors has, in fact, purchased Zebco brands. We will be releasing an official statement in the days ahead as right now our focus is on continuity of the business.”

The deal would bring together some of the best-known and most successful fishing brands of recent years.

Rather Outdoors, which acquired its new name late last year to better represent its interests, began life in 2017 as Lew’s Holdings Corporation, following the merger of the Lew’s and Strike King businesses in the USA.

Then in 2019, the Lew’s Holdings portfolio grew as it bought Fox International and its family of renowned European brands, including Salmo, Fox Rage and Matrix, for £150 million, ushering the organisation into a wider global marketplace.

TTW had been monitoring rumours of a deal to acquire the Zebco group of brands from W C Bradley, so a brief announcement a few weeks by the Vienna-based Federal Competition Authority (Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde) came as little surprise.

The official statement read: “Rather Outdoors Corporation (Lexington/United States), a portfolio company of the BDT funds, intends to acquire all shares in and sole control over W C Bradley/Zebco Holdings, Inc. (Tulsa/United States) and its subsidiaries. The proposed concentration concerns fishing equipment.”

With brands under Zebco’s umbrella including Zebco itself, Browning, Rhino, Quantum, Radical and Black Cat plus Preston Innovations, Korum, Avid Carp and Sonubaits, among others, it seems likely that this would lead to one of the largest portfolios of tackle names in the world.

The closest comparison would be with Pure Fishing, whose stable includes Hardy, Greys, JRC, Mitchell, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Shakespeare, Ugly Stik, Stren, Spiderwire and Penn. Ironically, it also purchased Fin-Nor and Van Staal from W C Bradley back in 2019.

Fox, Fox Rage, Matrix and Salmo already have a strong foothold in Europe and in key sectors like carp, match and lure fishing, while the addition of the Preston Innovations group’s carp, match, coarse and bait brands will boost business further.

And that’s before you add in Zebco’s offerings, including catfish gear through Black Cat.