The Thule Group Acquires Canadian Success Chariot Carriers Inc. - Strengthens the Focus on Products for Active Lifestyle

Jun 01, 2011, 08:00 ET from Thule Group

MALMO, Sweden, June 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Thule Group is pleased to announce the acquisition of Chariot Carriers Inc., one of the world's leading designers and developers of bicycle trailers and multi-functional child carriers. Thule Group has signed an agreement with Chariot Carriers Inc. which will consequently add a strong brand and new product line to Thule's existing portfolio of products for smart and safe transportation. The acquisition is a natural step in the Thule Group's increased focus on consumer products for an active lifestyle. To support this increased focus on active lifestyle products, the Thule Group also appointed this spring a new board of directors with a focus on brand building and retail.

Thule Group will acquire all assets of the Canadian family business Chariot, sold by the two brothers Dan and Chris Britton, and Pierre Doyon, the company's CEO. Chariot has a turnover of CAD 25 million (equals SEK 160 million and euro 18 million). The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.

"We have had our eyes on Chariot for some time. It is a genuine and consumer-oriented family company with a strong management team and premium products that are sold in a number of markets worldwide. The Thule Group and Chariot Carriers Inc. share the same philosophy of smart solutions for active lifestyles. Right at the beginning of our preliminary discussions, it was evident that both companies shared similar outlook on delivering smart and market-centric solutions for active families. The synergies became even more obvious as we look how we evaluate markets and how we value quality in products and people. All of which feel like an enormous strength," said Magnus Welander, CEO and President of the Thule Group.

Chariot bicycle trailers and multi-functional child carriers are designed for parents committed to an active lifestyle by bringing their children conveniently, safely and in style in their family adventures. Through patented technologies, a Chariot carrier can easily be adapted to five different applications including cycling, jogging, strolling, hiking and skiing.

The company was founded nearly twenty years ago. All products are developed and designed in Calgary, Canada, where about 30 employees are employed. Production takes place both in Canada and in China. Chariot is the market leader in its category in North America and in a number of European markets.

"Over the last two decades, Chariot Carriers has been committed to delivering product quality and integrity by constantly improving our designs and innovating with safe and convenient products for active families. When the Thule Group approached us, we were impressed with their similar focused approach to their brands and with their understanding of our business and markets.  We felt that they were the perfect partner to help Chariot grow to the next level and to its full business potential worldwide. I am very pleased for both organizations that we have concluded this agreement.  I look forward to this exciting new chapter together," said Dan Britton, Chariots founder and part owner, who will continue in the company as Director Innovation.

The purchase of Chariot, which will be subject to formal approval by the European competition authorities, is the Thule Group's first acquisition since the Swedish private equity company Nordic Capital again took over as the dominant shareholder of the Group in December 2010. And it is also an important part in the development of the Thule Group in a position even closer to the consumer.

In April, the Thule Groups new board was presented, including new Chairman Stefan Jacobsson (previously  CEO and President at Puma and Abu Garcia), Lilian Fossum Biner (also on the Board of Oriflame and the Swedish retail chain Ahlens) and Lottie Svedenstedt (previously at the boards of H&M and IKEA). The changes in the Group's board is - an important step in the Thule Group's change of direction towards an increased focus on brand building and retail.

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About the Thule Group

The Thule Group is world leader in products and brands that make it easy for people to transport their equipment securely, safely and in style. Under the motto Active Life, Simplified, the Thule Group offers products within four areas: Carry Solutions (laptop and camera bags, backpacks, etc), Vehicle Solutions (roof racks, bike racks, ski boxes, snow chains, etc), Work Solutions (ladder racks, tool boxes, etc) and Towing Solutions (towbars and trailers). The Thule Group has about 3,100 employees at more than 50 production facilities and sales offices worldwide. In 2010 sales amounted to SEK 5,7 billion.

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SOURCE Thule Group