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New Balance and Berkshire Partners form new entity to buy Rockport

BY Marianne Wilson

Canton, Mass. — Athletic-shoe maker New Balance has teamed up with private-equity firm Berkshire Partners LLC to acquire The Rockport Company from the Adidas Group for $280 million.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

As part of the deal, New Balance affiliate Drydock Footwear LLC, whose brands include Cobb Hill, Aravon and Dunham, will join with The Rockport Co. to create The Rockport Group.

The Rockport Group will become a new stand-alone company. Drydock founder and president Bob Infantino will serve as CEO of The Rockport Group once the acquisition is complete.

For Adidas, selling Rockport is a strategic move that will allow it to focus on its core athletic business.

“Rockport is a brand that has performed well over the last years. However, our focus is clearly on sport and operating a brand portfolio with a clear agenda to unleash the potential of athletes and inspire consumers to live active lives. The brown shoe category is not core to this strategy and the sale of Rockport will allow us to reduce complexity and pursue our target consumer more aggressively with the Adidas, Reebok and TaylorMade brands,” said Herbert Hainer, CEO, Adidas Group.

The deal is expected to close later this year.

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Home Depot building its future at Georgia Tech

BY CSA STAFF

Home Depot’s efforts to advance tech innovation in retail will be getting a big boost from the company’s latest initiative.

The retailer has partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology to create a cutting-edge research center, focused on advancing tech innovations, education and giving young talent an opportunity to grow. The new Home Depot Technology Center will allow the company to work with more than 40 start-up companies housed at Georgia Tech.

“Our working with Georgia Tech in this capacity provides a unique opportunity for the Georgia Tech community to learn more about The Home Depot, and it builds a strong partnership for students to consider us for future employment upon graduation,” said Martin Key, director of IT and site leader at the Home Depot Technology Center.

Through this new facility, the company will collaborate with students at the Atlanta-based university in their cutting-edge research center. A select group of 20 students work alongside three Home Depot associates in the 6,500 square foot facility. The Home Depot Technology Center focuses on major areas for innovation, such as virtual reality, 3D printing and 3D scanning.

“I think there is a lot of up-and-coming location-based technology that will be useful in stores,” said Preston Turner, a Georgia Tech undergraduate studying computer science. “I also believe there’s a lot of room for advances in the check-out process. If Home Depot keeps doing what they are doing, I could definitely see myself working in this field, looking at new technology and seeing how we can apply them in places we haven’t applied them before.”

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Target cooks up a coffee range with Batali

BY CSA STAFF

Target already has famous TV chef GIada De Laurentis selling her products on its shelves, but the retailer is teaming up with another celebrity foodie for a new product line.

The company said it is launching a Mario Batali coffee range. Caffé Italiano, a collection of Italian-style coffees, will sell at select Target stores nationwide and online at www.target.com. The coffee is a product of a unique collaboration between Batali and Todd Carmichael, founder and CEO of La Colombe, world-renowned specialty coffee roaster.

“One of life’s greatest joys is sitting in an Italian café with good friends and enjoying a great cup of coffee or espresso,” Batali said. “I challenged La Colombe to create a selection of coffees that replicates these wonderful moments, and I am thrilled with the results of their expert craftsmanship.”

On an episode of Travel Channel’s "Dangerous Grounds," Carmichael’s television series based around coffee, Batali challenged Carmichael to create blends that capture the Italian coffee experience. Mario Batali Caffé Italiano is a result of that mission.

“Caffé Italiano embraces all that is beautiful about Italian coffee,” Carmichael said. “We use specialty grade beans to create the perfect balance between bitter and acidity, combining traditional old world coffee with new world upgrades. The result is a big coffee with big crema and body.”

The culinary tastemaker and premier coffee roaster partnered to create blends across flavor profiles and sources, including:

  • Abruzzo Blend: A dark roasted nutty blend from Haiti, Brazil, and Ethiopia.
  • Roma Blend: A medium roasted blend with flavor hints of milk chocolate from Haiti, Brazil, Colombia, and Ethiopia.
  • Amalfi Blend: A decaffeinated blend from Brazil and Sumatra.

The coffee is available in whole bean and ground.

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