J. America Announces Merger

Apparel supplier J. America Inc. (asi/62977) has merged with Top of the World LLC – a leading provider of licensed collegiate headwear. The merger creates a single company that will operate in two business units under both the J. America and Top of the World names.

Jeff Fenech, co-founder of J. America, said that Top of the World’s position as a best-in-class headwear brand with 30 years of experience made the merger an attractive prospect. “The merger,” said Fenech, “will allow us to offer even more innovative products and designs to the market.”

Led by Fenech, the merged company’s wholesale blanks division will sell blank apparel and blank headwear under the J. America brand. Meanwhile, Scott Shuler, current president of Top of the World, will spearhead the licensing business division, which will go to market with decorated apparel and headwear under the Top of the World moniker.

“Top of the World’s leadership position within the collegiate licensed market will translate exceptionally well into the wholesale blanks promotional products market, allowing the J. America wholesale blanks business unit to quickly bring leading-edge headwear to the promotional products market,” Fenech told Counselor.

Shuler expressed similar optimism. “This merger allows a single company to better leverage our brand, secure additional product offerings, and deepen our supplier relationships,” he said in a statement.

Financial terms of the deal were not revealed publicly.

J. America is a portfolio company of Blue Point Capital Partners, a Cleveland, OH-based global middle market private equity firm that recapitalized J. America earlier this year, acquiring a majority ownership in the business. Fenech told Counselor that Blue Point will remain the majority owner of the new combined business. “As brand management becomes increasingly critical to licensed programs, this combination creates a company with industry-leading resources, experience and people,” said Chip Chaikin, partner at Blue Point. “With a full range of products, broad distribution reach and a culture of flexibility, the new company can meet the needs of our customers, however they evolve.”