December 21, 2020, BASKING RIDGE, NJ/JACKSONVILLE, FL/INDIANAPOLIS, IN —Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. (NYSE: BNED), a leading solutions provider for the education industry, today announced it has entered into a long-term strategic omnichannel merchandising partnership with Fanatics and Lids, the two online and offline leaders in the licensed sports and emblematic merchandise category.
Fanatics’ cutting-edge e-commerce and technology expertise will offer BNED campus stores expanded product selection, a world-class online and mobile experience, and a progressive direct-to-consumer platform. Coupled with Lids, the leading standalone brick and mortar retailer focused exclusively on licensed fan and alumni products, BNC and its campus stores will have improved access to trend and sales performance data on licensees, product styles, and design treatments from more than 1,200 Lids stores.
Under the terms of the agreement, Fanatics and Lids will jointly make a $15 million strategic equity investment in BNED and receive 2,307,692 common shares of BNED in exchange, representing a share price of $6.50 per share. BNED expects to use these proceeds to further bolster its strategic growth initiatives.
BNC will maintain its relationships with campus partners and remain responsible for staffing and managing the day-to-day operations of its campus bookstores. It will also work closely with its campus partners to ensure that each BNC campus store will maintain unique aspects of in-store merchandising, including localized product assortments and specific styles and designs that reflect each campus’s brand. BNED will leverage Fanatics’ operational management of the emblematic merchandise and gift sections of BNC campus store web sites. Lids will manage in-store assortment planning and merchandising of emblematic apparel, headwear, and gift products for BNC partner campus stores.
“We are thrilled to partner with Fanatics and Lids to bring a best-of-breed retail and e-commerce experience to our schools, students and customers,” said Michael P. Huseby, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, BNED. “This partnership has tremendous potential to improve the customer experience, increase selection and accelerate BNED’s growth across our high-margin general merchandise business, particularly in e-commerce, providing a significant opportunity to increase our financial contribution to campus partners. We will continue to do what BNED does best, and benefit from Fanatics’ and Lids’ strengths in e-commerce and merchandising to drive even more value for our campus partners. We will also be able to leverage a large and growing e-commerce platform to better cross-sell products and increase our market share, while realizing key technology and supply chain efficiencies. In addition to driving value for our shareholders and providing BNED additional liquidity to invest in growth, this alliance will help our university partners tailor their product offerings to better meet students’ needs.”
“We look forward to partnering with BNED and Lids to bring our revolutionary approach to the licensed sports business to hundreds of universities across the country,” said Michael Rubin, Executive Chairman of Fanatics. “Looking ahead, we are eager to leverage our e-commerce expertise and channel leadership in licensed merchandise to enhance the consumer experience across BNED’s campus stores, while driving growth and revenue for both BNED and its school partners. We are confident that this alliance will be a key differentiator in the education market, with our combined connectivity helping to drive new BNED campus partnerships to the benefit of students, faculty, and educational institutions.”
A company that has transformed both college and licensed sports commerce, Fanatics has been named as one of Fast Company Magazine’s “Most Innovative Companies” for three consecutive years. Fanatics, the top ranked provider of collegiate merchandise since 2018, has existing partnerships with more than 150 universities to operate e-commerce and mobile store sites, and more broadly sells college merchandise for more than 500 colleges and universities on its flagship online shop, Fanatics.com. Lids operates more than 1,200 brick and mortar retail stores across North America, including flagship retail partnerships for branded store experiences with Macy’s and both the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Lawrence Berger, Chairman of Lids said, “Our team is excited to partner with BNED to bring innovative new products and marketing to its college partners, while maintaining the distinct local product assortments that make BNED campus shops so unique. Understanding the affinities of alumni, fans, and students is core to our success and aligning with BNED and its campus partners is an exciting new chapter for higher education.”