On December 16, 2019, Pelican International Inc. announced the acquisition of Confluence Outdoors LLC assets. With this acquisition, Pelican now offers the most comprehensive lineup of paddlesports equipment in the industry, from premium brands to more accessible products.
Many industry insiders reacted with surprise to the news of the acquisition. Based in Laval, Quebec, Pelican is a 50-year veteran of the industry, providing recreational paddlesports products at affordable prices. Confluence Outdoors is the parent company of premier brands Wilderness Systems, Perception, Dagger, Mad River Canoe, Harmony Gear, and Boardworks, and based in Greenville, South Carolina.
“Combining the strengths of Pelican and Confluence will create a company that can better serve retailers, and ultimately better serve consumers,” says Pelican’s communications director Elizabeth Rivas. “The paddlesports industry is very niche, and Confluence came to be considered a very good opportunity for Pelican to expand. Our complementary aspects are undeniable.”
“Pelican and Confluence are the ideal fit,” confirmed Todd King, vice-president of marketing at Confluence Outdoor, in the initial press release. “It’s the optimal union of two industry leaders poised to drive innovation and serve consumers better than ever before.”
According to Rivas, Confluence approached Pelican about the acquisition in March 2019. “It was perfect timing for us,” Rivas adds. Pelican is a privately-owned company, and will not publicly disclose the price of the acquisition.
“This is not a take-over, a start-over or a play on some elusive financial drivers,” says Rivas, adding that this is the first acquisition for Pelican International Inc. “The paddlesports market has become saturated with too many suppliers and consumer confusion is prevalent. When markets reach this level, it is inevitable consolidation will occur, as we have witnessed in the recent months in paddlesports.”
Industry shakeups in Fall 2019 included Hemisphere Design Works shuttering its factory,Bonafide Kayaks and Big Adventures merging, and consolidation of Jackson Kayak, Orion Coolers, Orion Kennels and Blue Sky Boatworks.
With the acquisition announcement made, management can now get down to work. “Now that it is official, we will take the time to plan an integration process that will be spread out through 12 to 18 months,” says Rivas.
The beginning of 2020 will be devoted to assessing how the company can best leverage its potential, she says. “We are developing a brand strategy that will best serve retailers and our consumers. Specialty is a vital part of this strategy. At this point, making assumptions on distribution is supposition, and Pelican understands the importance of brand differentiation and premium brands.”
She continues: “With Confluence’s well known and established brands, Pelican has no intention of reinventing the Confluence wheel and altering premium brands. Our goal is to utilize core competencies of all the brands and optimize the total of our knowledge and expertise together. We will continue to be two different entities but within a complementary portfolio.”
Areas of overlap will be “optimized” to make choice “easy for dealers and the consumer,” says Rivas.
With the acquisition, Pelican now has more than 800 employees. “We need everyone currently employed to continue working and supporting our business and brands; going forward, the expectation is business as usual,” says Rivas.
Pelican will now also have unprecedented reach. “We are now the only company to offer consumers a comprehensive selection of products across all price points and features. This will allow consumer progression and serve the development of a passion for paddlesports wherever a consumer is on their journey,” says Rivas.
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