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Brunswick acquires Bell Recreational Products

Brunswick Corp. announced this morning that it acquired distributor Bell Recreational Products Group, a subsidiary of Bell Industries. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Bell RPG, which had sales of around $40 million in 2013, is a distributor of parts and accessories to the marine, recreational vehicle and powersports markets, serving primarily the Upper Midwest through locations in Eagan, Minn., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Milwaukee, Wis.

The acquisition will “further solidify our footprint in the upper Midwest”and establish a presence in new product categories and industries, CEO Dusty McCoy said in a statement.

“Additionally, Bell RPG offers a number of complementary products, particularly those serving the RV and powersports industries, to add to our marine P&A portfolio,”McCoy said. “With this transaction we continue to increase our product depth and breadth as well as establish a presence in new product categories and industries, consistent with our strategy of using our cash to grow our core businesses."

Brunswick has made clear its intentions to grow its marine P&A business in recent interviews, with McCoy reiterating the company’s plan during an earnings call with analysts last week.

In a June interview with Soundings Trade Only, Brunswick president and COO Mark Schwabero said Brunswick would look to grow the marine P&A business either with bolt-on acquisitions or by leveraging infrastructure “into some new markets.”

“We’ve said those are strategic objectives, and as I’ve mentioned, part of my role is to achieve the strategic objectives, and we’re on that path,”Schwabero said in June.

The parts and accessories business accounts for 43 percent of Mercury’s sales, and Mercury is the largest division of Brunswick, Schwabero said, adding that, “It’s a significant piece of the Brunswick portfolio.”

“It doesn’t have the degree of cyclicality to it that a pure marine play would have because you’re dealing with a much larger population,”he said. “So you don’t see the kind of peaks and percentage improvements year-over-year on the upside or on the downside, but it’s a market that’s showing nice year-over-year growth for us as a corporation.”

Bell RPG will operate as part of Land 'N' Sea, Brunswick’s marine P&A distributor in North America, ultimately reporting to Fond du Lac, Wis.-based Mercury Marine's P&A operations.

The acquisition is expected to have a minimal impact upon Brunswick's 2014 earnings.

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