Prince Sports, Inc. Set to Acquire Platform Tennis Leader Viking Athletics
Bordentown, NJ – February 27, 2008 -– Prince Sports, Inc., the racquet sports company leader is set to acquire the elite platform tennis brand, Viking Athletics. The partnership would bring together two like-minded companies committed to providing players of all court sports the best quality products and customer service. In addition, by adding Viking under the Prince Sports, Inc. umbrella, Prince would continue to define itself as the world’s clear court sports leader through an extensive portfolio of leading brands in tennis, squash, racquetball and now, paddle sports. While the details of the deal are not yet finalized, both companies are extremely excited and optimistic about what it means for die-hard, passionate paddle sports players around the world.
Prince Sports, Inc., based in New Jersey, is an iconic brand and recognized leader in high-performance racquet sports. Both the Prince and Ektelon brands have revolutionized tennis, squash and racquetball respectively with innovations including “Oversize,” “Longbody” and O3 racquet technology. In recent years, Prince has enjoyed a resurgence and now has a strong #2 market share position. The Prince Indoor Court categories of Prince Squash and Ektelon Racquetball have experienced significant growth as well reaching their highest market share levels since 1998. With a new equity partnership with Nautic Partners, formed in July 2007, Prince Sports is focused on broadening its footprint globally, expanding its O Tech platform and building sales momentum in all categories.
George Napier, CEO of Prince Sports, Inc. commented, “‘Prince is a complete racquet and court sports company and as specialists we want, and need, to be involved in every aspect of the industry. Like Viking, Prince prides itself on listening to players and delivering top-notch product and delivering stellar customer support – which ultimately leads to more enjoyment on the court. Viking is the clear leader in platform tennis so it makes perfect sense to partner with David who runs a company that, like Prince, not only has an impressive and widely respected heritage, but continues to bring the most innovative performance products to market. We are extremely excited about this potential partnership.”
Viking Athletics was founded in 1984 in Lindenhurst, New York by David Kjeldsen, an avid platform player who is widely accepted as the “guru” of the sport and who will be inducted into the ATPA Hall of Fame during the national event in March.
Viking Athletics will retain its name and will continue to conduct business in the same fashion platform tennis fans and players have come to expect. Viking currently enjoys a dominant position in the market place selling well over 50% of all paddles and balls in the market. The company offers superior products covering paddle players from head to toe with a complete line that includes paddles at all price points, balls, apparel and court accessories. In addition, Viking is a leader in grassroots marketing and sponsorship having set up two key programs to help drive the sport including Viking Academies to provide premium instructional opportunities for all platform tennis players and sponsoring initiatives such as the Viking Junior Tour.
“I am extremely excited about the prospect of joining Viking with the Prince family of brands and continuing to build Viking and the sport of platform tennis globally,” said David Kjeldsen. “No other racquet brand on the planet has the reach, understanding and passion Prince has and their recent success in all sports is a testament to the team and leadership in place – a team I am very excited to join and have leading Viking into the future. Together, we plan to reach many more players and educate them on the great sports of platform and paddle tennis and provide them with the best products available.”
The Viking brand will be managed by Scott Winters, VP of Small Court Sports at Prince who is responsible for the strong growth and overall success of both the Prince Squash and Ektelon brands – both leaders in their respective categories. Viking Founder David Kjeldsen, will join the Prince team and will work closely with Scott in the future to continue the highest level of grass roots support, service and product development dealers and players are accustomed to from Viking.
“David is a visionary whose passion for his sport is infectious. It is no wonder he is widely regarded as the most insightful, forward thinking person in his sport and we are extremely excited about the possibility of working with him moving forward”, said Scott Winters. “These are two very prestigious brands that share very similar visions and beliefs when it comes to providing players with product and experiences. As a clear leader in their sport, Viking will be a perfect addition to our “small courts” roster complementing our Prince Squash and Ektelon categories.”
Charlie Osborn, VP of National Sales for Prince, who has a history of experience in platform tennis, will manage the sales initiatives for the new brand engaging Prince’s internal Customer Service team and extended sales force to handle Viking products and services.
“Through my experience selling platform tennis products I have come to understand how passionate the fans and consumers of this sport are. It is extremely exciting to be able to turn these products over to our sales force and have them begin interacting with paddle sports retailers and consumers. Viking products are top-of-the-line and make a natural addition to the host of products our sales force currently sells and promotes in the marketplace. We are ramping up to attend the ATPA Nationals held in Rochester, New York from March 13-16 and help launch this partnership with the strongest presence fans have ever seen from Viking.”
About Prince Sports
Prince Sports, Inc., based in New Jersey, is a recognized leader in game-improvement technologies and engineering-based, high-performance sports equipment. Since 1970, Prince and Ektelon have revolutionized tennis, squash and racquetball with innovations including “Oversize,” “Longbody” and “Extender” racquet technologies, Natural Foot Shape footwear technology, Synthetic Gut String and Electronic Ball Machines. In 2005 the Company introduced its O Tech platform building the brand with O3 Original (2005), O3 Hybrid (2006) and O3 Speedport (2007) racquets which give players speed, stability and a larger sweet spot. Since then, the Company has licensed, under the O Tech trademark, its award winning O Technology to leading brands in other sports as a product performance booster. In 2006, Prince introduced M Series footwear with Precision Tube Technology, an innovation that gives players maximum cushioning, stability and ventilation. In 2007, Prince introduced AeroTech apparel, an advanced technology based fabric system, engineered to fit your game. Prince Sports has operations on three continents and distribution in over 100 countries. For more information, please visit www.princesports.com.
About Viking Athletics
Viking Athletics, Ltd., based in Lindenhurst, Long Island, New York, is the unquestioned equipment leader in the sport of platform tennis. Viking’s OZ™ paddle as been the sport’s best selling paddle for twelve consecutive years. Currently over 70% of the top men and 60% of the top women players in the world use Viking paddles. Viking enjoys a dominant ball market share position with well over half of all balls sold in the sport during 2007. For more information, please visit www.vikingathletics.com.
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