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Wilson Sporting Goods Buying the Louisville Slugger Brand

Update 12:54 p.m.: Details of the Sale
Wilson Sporting Goods will pay $70 million for the Louisville Slugger brand, the companies' representatives said Monday in a news conference.

With the deal, 52 Hillerich and Bradsby Co. employees will be laid off, mostly from positions such as accounting and information technology, the companies' representatives said. Currently, H&B has about 270 employees; some other positions will move to operate under Wilson.

The companies do not plan to overlap the brands—in other words, Wilson and Louisville Slugger branding won't appear on the same merchandise. But companies may someday begin to use the Slugger brand on other merchandise besides bats, gloves and bags.

Earlier: This story has been updated.

Hillerich and Bradsby Co. is turning over "global brand, sales and innovation rights" for the Louisville Slugger brand to Wilson Sporting Goods, marking a major change for one of the city's signature brands.

The sporting goods companies announced the deal Monday morning.

The deal is pending Hillerich and Bradsby stockholder approval.

Hillerich and Bradsby will continue to manufacture bats—but they'll be doing it for Wilson, a news release from the companies said. H&B will become Wilson's "exclusive manufacturing partner" for wood bats, and will also maintain ownership of the downtown Louisville Slugger Museum. Also, other H&B brands such as Powerbilt will not be part of the Wilson deal.

"The Hillerich family, and those closest to the brand, firmly believes that a new business model is necessary to realize the enormous potential of this brand in the future,” said H&B chief executive John A. Hillerich in a news release. “We recognized from our first conversation with Wilson that
they would be a great partner and steward of the brand our family created and so many have nurtured for 131 years.”

Wilson and Hillerich and Bradsby representatives will discuss details of the deal this morning at Slugger headquarters in downtown Louisville.

This story will be updated after the new conference.

Louisville Slugger is a division of Hillerich and Bradsby Co. The company's bat-crafting roots in the late 1800s.

More than one million bats are made in Louisville every year, according tot he company's website. Aluminum bats are produced in Canada, as well.

In the news release, Wilson Sporting Goods said it intends to grow the Louisville Slugger brand domestically and abroad. Wilson's parent company is Amer Sports, according to a news release.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.