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Winona's WinCraft sold to Florida-based Fanatics

Jobs and production will be kept in Winona, according to buyout plan.

John Killen.jpg
John Killen

WINONA — WinCraft, a Winona-based company that manufactures and sells licensed sports-related merchandise, has been sold to Florida-based Fanatics.

"It's so exciting," said John Killen, senior vice president of hardgoods/president WinCraft of Fanatics Brand. "WinCraft has been here for 60 years, and not much has changed (due to the sale) other than the ownerships and the width of the opportunities."

All employees are being retained by the new owners. In fact, Killen said, they will have a better benefits package through Fanatics, and the Winona business should see growth as a result of the sale to Fanatics, the top sports merchandise company in the world.

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The move helps Fanatics build a stronger presence in the market.

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This year, Fanatics purchased Top of the World headwear, one of the leading sports headwear brands. Killen said Fanatics also bought Majestic, an apparel company licensed to make all on-field merchandise for Major League Baseball. To that portfolio, Fanatics has added WinCraft, which manufactures hardgoods (non-apparel), bringing approximately $100 million in annual sales to the company.

With owner Dick Pope in his 80s, Killen said the time was right to find a new owner for WinCraft, and Fanatics was a perfect fit.

However, with its own strong position in the U.S. sports merchandise market, Killen said job security for the Winona workers was the No. 1 priority for WinCraft in the deal.

"A lot of companies wanted to buy our business," he said, adding that Fanatics had long been WinCraft's No. 2 customer, so the two companies had a good working relationship already. "In the buying process, they said we don't need to come to Winona, because we know the facilities, we know the people, and we know the quality of the product."

The buyout should allow WinCraft to expand its customer base from its roughly 5,000 retail clients in the United States to a worldwide customer and retail base. And while Fanatics can add the WinCraft hardgoods to its merchandise offerings, WinCraft retail clients can add Fanatics items to their stock, as well.

WinCraft makes everything from team-branded clocks and can coolers to flags and umbrellas.

WinCraft's brand will now operate under the Fanatics Brands division, according to a statement from WinCraft on the deal.

Related Topics: MANUFACTURING
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