Firm buys EMS

Last modified: 12/3/2012 6:36:31 PM
PETERBOROUGH — Eastern Mountain Sports, the Peterborough-based retailer that has 69 stores in 12 eastern states, was sold this week to Versa Capital Management LLC, a Philadelphia-based private equity investment firm.

Mark Walsh, a principal at Versa who is the chairman of Bob’s Stores, a northeastern apparel retailer owned by Versa portfolio, will serve as chairman of the board of EMS. Purchase terms were not disclosed.

In a press release announcing the sale, EMS Chief Executive Officer Will Manzer said, “Versa’s acquisition strengthens our future, and I am excited about the prospects before us. With Versa on board, all EMS associates can remain focused on delivering the very best level of support to our stores and to our customers during this holiday shopping season.”

Manzer was unavailable for comment on the purchase on Wednesday and EMS representatives in Peterborough referred calls about the purchase to Versa.

According to Walsh, plans call for maintaining all the current EMS stores and no major initiatives will be considered until after the holiday season.

“The EMS customer will see no change to the high touch, differentiated experience they are accustomed to in all of our locations and online,” Walsh said in the press release.

Manzer led a management team buyout of EMS from a previous corporate owner, American Retail Group, in 2004. The company was founded by two Massachusetts rock climbers, Alan McDonough and Roger Furst, in 1967. They sold the company, which had moved its headquarters to Peterborough, to The Franklin Mint in 1979 and it was later sold to the American Retail Group.

Gregory Segall, CEO of Versa Capital, said the acquisition is a natural fit for Versa.

“EMS brings a 45-year history of marketing products for serious outdoor enthusiasts,” Segall said in the release. “With a new capital structure and the other resources that Versa can offer, EMS will have many new opportunities to develop its branded products and better serve its customers.”

According to Walsh, one of those opportunities could be collaboration with Bob’s Stores, a retail chain recognized in 2011 as Connecticut’s retailer of the year.

Versa is a private equity investment firm with $1.2 billion of assets under management. Its portfolio includes Bob’s Stores; Avenue Stores, a chain offering “affordable fashion for real size women,” according to the release; and Black Angus Steakhouses, a chain of family-oriented steak restaurants in the western U.S.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.


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