Winnebago has expanded into the marine market with their purchase of Chris-Craft in early June. The recreational vehicle manufacturer bought the iconic boat brand from London-based Stellican Ltd., which has owned it since 2001. This will be Winnebago’s first foray into the boating industry, and President and CEO Michael Happe says it’s a logical next step for the company.
“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 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.”
Winnebago has been looking to expand into the outdoor-lifestyle market for quite some time, according to Happe, who cited the large and increasing population of boat owners and the huge potential for growth as being key motivators. “We believe there will be synergies realized across our value chain and that the Chris-Craft business has material expansion opportunities available,” Happe explained. “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. We look forward to working with the talented Chris-Craft team and to welcoming them to the Winnebago family.”
While the terms of the transaction were not disclosed, things are expected to remain relatively stable at Chris-Craft; current president Stephen Hesse will stay on in his current role, and the Sarasota, Florida, headquarters and team will be retained. “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,” Heese said.