Hanover-based DTLR will merge with Sneaker Villa, creating urban apparel powerhouse

DTLR, an urban lifestyle retailer based in Hanover, is merging with Philadelpia-based Sneaker Villa to form one of the nation’s largest chains selling street-inspired footwear and clothing.

The combined company, which will remain headquartered in Hanover, will operate more than 230 stores in 18 states, have estimated sales of $500 million and be poised for growth in both existing and new markets, said Glenn Gaynor, CEO of DTLR.

Gaynor, who will lead the merged chain, estimated the combined company will employ between 3,000 and 4,000 people, including at stores, distribution centers and corporate offices. Its stores will continue to operate for the foreseeable future under their current brands, he said.

“Combining two quality organizations like these, we get to combine the best of each,” Gaynor said. “It gives us a scale that will help us as we go forward.”

Matt Powell, an industry analyst for The NPD Group, described both companies as “quality retailers” that have been well run and benefited from the growth and popularity of brands such as Nike. Villa had faced challenges, he said, after taking on debt to expand in a difficult market.

The merger will “make them more solid, formidable opponents for sure,” Powell said. “It gives them scale that nobody else in this space has. They will be the largest player.”

Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.

Lender Golub Capital said it provided $200 million to support the merger, but company officials declined to provide additional financial details.

DTLR, which started with a single store in Baltimore in 1982, has been owned since 2005 by Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. a New York-based private equity firm with $1.4 billion of committed capital under management in three investment partnerships.

Sneaker Villa, which operates stores under the Villa brand, is owned by Goode Partners, another New York-based private equity firm. It runs 120 stores in 10 states.

“By fusing together our passion for fashion, music, sports, community empowerment, entertainment and other topics shaping our community, we strive to give the VILLA customer a high energy shopping experience,” the company says on its website. “Our number one mission is to change and enhance the way business is done in urban neighborhoods.”

DTLR, formerly Downtown Locker Room, specializes in trendy footwear, apparel and accessories and store formats designed to have a high-energy atmosphere with the look and feel of an independent retailer. It has expanded to 110 stores in 12 states and Washington, including 29 in Maryland. The chain opened 12 to 15 stores in the last couple of years.

DTLR has eight Baltimore city stores, including locations at Mt. Clare Station on West Pratt Street, West Lexington Street, Monument Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Mondawmin Mall and the Gallery at Harborplace. Other Baltimore-area locations include Annapolis, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Randallstown, Towson and White Marsh.

Jeff Bowden, DTLR’s vice president of marketing and community outreach, said managers are looking at ways to combine administrative functions, but employment would likely grow at the Hanover office.

“The good thing about the merger is there is very little overlap with geographic regions,” with Villa concentrated in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Texas, Bowden said.

“Our DNA is so similar,” Bowden said. “The marriage just makes sense, not only because of our DNA and what we purchase for the consumers, but our culture. It definitely gives us a competitive difference with so many location in so many high-impact cities.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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