Strange Bedfellows: Investment Firms And Midwest Hunting Suppliers

Any investor worth his or her salt knows that diversifying portfolios is the only sure-fire way to avoid financial catastrophe, but it’s not often that hunting and outdoor lifestyle suppliers are tapped as worthwhile investments for private equity firms.

That’s just what investment group KKR has done with its announcement on Tuesday (Jan. 5) that it had acquired Mills Fleet Farm, the Midwest-based hunting, farming and outdoors equipment retailer, for an unreleased price. Nate Taylor, a member of KKR’s private equity team, explained that his group will continue an aggressive expansion of the brand’s footprint throughout the Midwest.

“We are proud to partner with Mills Fleet Farm, a highly differentiated brand in the Midwest, and invest behind its continued growth,” Taylor said in a statement. “In doing so, we remain committed to Mills Fleet Farm’s founding values — and those shared by KKR — of honesty, integrity, hard work, service and loyalty to our customers and partners. We anticipate investing significantly in the business, adding infrastructure, stores and local jobs.”

Though Mills Fleet Farm may be the first outdoors-oriented commercial property under KKR’s purview, the Minnesota Star Tribune noted that it’s far from the investment group’s first foray into the world of retail. KKR also owns stakes in other national brands, including Academy Sports + Outdoors, National Vision, Pets at Home, Channel Control Merchants, US Foods and Toys”R”Us.

While very little financial information was included in KKR’s press release on the acquisition, Reuters reported in December that the number $1.2 billion was floating around in talks between the retailer and the investment group. That number would have covered all of Mills Fleet Farm’s 35 stores across four states, including smaller standalone gas station and car wash locations; though if expansion is in order, expect KKR to have much more allocated to the retailer’s future plans.


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