by Dom Wiseman

RV maker Winnebago Industries announced recently that it will buy legendary boat maker Chris Craft. The company is following through on plans to widen its portfolio in the outdoors market.

The brand was acquired from Stellican Ltd., which has owned Chris Craft since 2001. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Chris Craft’s brand heritage dates back to 1874. It is an industry leader in recreational boating craftsmanship and quality. Chris Craft plan on driving future growth through the introduction of new models and product lines, category extension opportunities all 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 Winnebago Industries President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Happe.

“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.”

Mr. Happe continued, “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 consider building 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. With a broader, more balanced portfolio of products uniquely positioned across the outdoor lifestyle and leisure travel industries, we expect to continue to drive improved profitability and shareholder value over the long term. We look forward to working with the talented Chris Craft team and to welcoming them to the Winnebago family.”

“I am delighted that Chris Craft has found an ideal partner in Winnebago Industries,” added Chris Craft Chairman and Stellican Ltd. Founding Partner, Stephen Julius. “Winnebago is a natural fit for Chris Craft’s premium brand, with a similarly iconic brand, complementary cultures, and a shared dedication to design, craftsmanship, quality, and customer service.”

Chris Craft President, Stephen Heese, remarked, “We look forward to further developing our storied brand while leveraging Winnebago’s capital and resources to accelerate our growth and continue delivering an exceptional product experience for our dealers and customers.”

The transaction will see Stephen Heese continue to lead the Chris Craft business as its President with Winnebago planning to maintain Chris Craft’s Sarasota, Florida headquarters. The company will operate as a distinct business unit within a new “Other” operating segment.