Winnebago Diversifies With Chris-Craft Acquisition

By Chad Elmore05 June 2018

Winnebago Industries Inc., an outdoor lifestyle product manufacturer best known for motorhomes, has acquired boat-builder Chris-Craft. The boat manufacturer had been owned by London-based investment firm Stellican Ltd. since 2001. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Chris-Craft is a recreational boat builder that was founded in 1874. Winnebago said the business is poised to leverage its strong brand reputation and drive future growth through new models and category extension opportunities supported by increased production capacity and expanded dealer reach.

 “Chris-Craft is an iconic, premium brand that shares many similarities with our own heritage Winnebago brand, including a commitment to providing customers with the highest quality products and services,” said Michael Happe, president and CEO, Winnebago Industries, Forest City, Iowa. “The company’s strong brand, high-quality product line and premium position in the marine market make Chris-Craft an attractive addition to our portfolio. Chris-Craft marks Winnebago’s first entry into the marine market, which we believe has significant runway for growth, with a large and increasing population of current and new boaters who enjoy extraordinary experiences on the water.

“Importantly, this acquisition aligns with our strategic initiative to further diversify Winnebago Industries within the outdoor lifestyle market and gives us a strong base on which to build an additional revenue platform over time. We believe there will be synergies realized across our value chain and that the Chris-Craft business has material expansion opportunities available. Additionally, we see significant intersection between the RV and marine lifestyles and view marine as a natural adjacency to our existing outdoor lifestyle portfolio, with similar customer demographics and significant ownership crossover.”

 Stephen Heese will continue to lead the Chris-Craft business as its president, and Winnebago said it expects to maintain its Sarasota, Fla., headquarters. The boat manufacturer will operate as a distinct business unit within a new “Other” operating segment. The segment will include Chris-Craft, Winnebago’s Specialty Vehicles business and various corporate initiatives.

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