|Founded||Seattle, Washington, U.S. (1920)|
|Headquarters||10401 NE 8th Street Suite 500, |
Number of locations
|United States, Canada, Japan, Germany|
|Michael Egeck, President, CEO |
William End, Board Chair
|Products||Clothing, sportswear, outdoor gear|
|Owner||PSEB (Golden Gate Capital)|
Number of employees
|10,000 worldwide (2007)|
Eddie Bauer, LLC is an American limited liability company, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, that operates the Eddie Bauer clothing store chain. Eddie Bauer sells its merchandise via three independent channels:
- Retail stores: "premium" merchandise
- Outlet stores: lower-priced and inventory overstock merchandise
- Online and phone sales (call center located in Groveport, Ohio)
The company was established in 1920 in Seattle by Pacific Northwest outdoorsman, Eddie Bauer (1899–1986). In 1940 Bauer patented the first quilted down jacket. He later patented numerous other designs. The company was the first independent company which the United States Army hired and allowed to use a logo on the Army-issued uniform.
Bauer retired and sold the company in 1968. General Mills bought the company in 1971; in 1988, Spiegel bought it from General Mills.
In 2003, Spiegel, Inc., entered bankruptcy. The Spiegel catalog and all other assets were sold, except for Eddie Bauer.
In May 2005, Spiegel, Inc., emerged from bankruptcy as a stand-alone company under the name "Eddie Bauer Holdings, Inc.". On June 17, 2009, Eddie Bauer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware and was purchased by Golden Gate Capital.
In addition to the three sales channels, the company operates a distribution and fulfillment center in Groveport, Ohio; an IT facility in Westmont, Illinois; and a distribution center in Vaughan, Ontario. Eddie Bauer is also a minority participant in joint venture operations in Japan and Germany that include retail stores, catalogs, and websites. The company also selectively licenses the Eddie Bauer brand name and logo for various products sold through other companies including eyewear, furniture, bicycles, and, up until the 2010 model year, upper level versions of Ford Motor Company's Bronco, Explorer, Expedition and Excursion SUVs.
1920–1949: Eddie Bauer's Sport Shop
In 1920, Eddie Bauer, at the age of 21, established his first store in downtown Seattle. "Eddie Bauer's Tennis Shop" opened in the back of a local hunting and fishing store. He first specialized in building and repairing tennis rackets and the shop was only open during the tennis season; Bauer spent the rest of the year pursuing his own sportsman activities. Eventually Bauer expanded his line of merchandise to include his own hand-made golf clubs and fishing tackle and he changed the name of his store to "Eddie Bauer's Sport Shop". Bauer would go on to develop and patent a standardized shuttlecock. The Bauer Shuttlecock popularized badminton in the United States. While operating this first store, Bauer developed his creed, "To give you such outstanding quality, value, service and guarantee that we may be worthy of your high esteem", still used by the modern company
While on a winter fishing trip in Washington, Eddie Bauer developed hypothermia. After this, he began trying to develop alternatives to heavy wool garments used by outdoorsmen at the time. He attempted to offset the bulkiness of down by quilting a down-filled jacket. In 1940, Bauer then patented the first quilted goose down-insulated jacket in the United States: U.S. Design Patent 119,122 and introduced it in his store as "The Skyliner". Bauer took out more than 20 patents on various outdoor clothing and sporting equipment between 1934 and 1937.
U.S. Army Air Corps commission
In 1942, the United States Army Air Corps commissioned Eddie Bauer to develop the B-9 Flight Parka. More than 50,000 parkas were manufactured for World War II airmen. The parka was designed to keep pilots warm at high altitudes. Of all government suppliers, Eddie Bauer alone was granted permission to affix his company logo to his products used by the army. In addition to the parkas, Eddie Bauer supplied the army with backpacks, pants and sleeping bags, all of which became standard issue for American troops in the war. Prior to his involvement the army had a shortage in sleeping bags; Bauer eventually sold over 100,000 sleeping bags to the armed services.
In 1945, soon after he began selling women's clothing as well as men's, Eddie Bauer issued his first mail-order catalog. The original mailing list included the names of 14,000 soldiers who had worn Eddie Bauer clothing provided by the army during their service. By 1949, Bauer was employing 125 seamstresses. He eventually closed his downtown store and got out of retailing, except for showroom sales at his Seattle factory.
1950–1959: William F. Niemi partnership
By 1950, Eddie Bauer's health was declining due to overwork and a serious back injury. He took on local businessman and his hunting partner, William F. Niemi. Bauer transferred all of the common stock in Eddie Bauer, Inc., to Niemi who reorganized the store and improved cash flow. It was with Niemi that Bauer decided to focus his efforts on the mail order catalog.
By 1953, catalog sales totaled US$50,000. At this point, Bauer returned to being a shareholder in the company and formed a fifty-fifty partnership with Niemi. Throughout the 1950s, Eddie Bauer, Inc., outfitted various scientific and exploratory expeditions.
In 1960, Eddie Bauer and William Niemi took on their sons, Eddie C. Bauer and William Niemi Jr. as partners in the company. Eddie Bauer went on to supply his equipment for the American K2 Himalayan Expedition and several journeys through Antarctica.
Eddie Bauer retires
In 1968, Eddie Bauer retired and he and his son sold their half of the business to William Niemi and his son for $1.5 million. A group of investors who had helped finance the buyout gained stock in the company. That same year the first store outside of Seattle opened, in San Francisco.
In 1970, their first large store opened in downtown Seattle. In order to appeal to a broader range of consumers, Niemi shifted the company's focus featuring casual lifestyle apparel. The emphasis on women's apparel and accessories was greatly expanded in all stores as well.
1971–1987: General Mills and Ford Eddie Bauer branding
In 1971, William Niemi sold the company to General Mills. After the sale, the company shifted its focus to casual clothing and expanded to 61 stores and made $250 million in sales by 1988. This shift included the company dropping the tagline "Expedition Outfitter."
In 1987, Eddie Bauer introduced the "All Week Long" concept. This was meant to provide women with clothing they could wear throughout the week (e.g., at work) as opposed to just weekend wear. This concept was sold solely through the catalog when the first All Week Long store opened in Portland, Oregon, in the summer of 1991.
Eddie Bauer also began a cross-branding partnership with Ford Motor Company in 1983 to produce Eddie Bauer Edition Ford vehicles. In 1984, the first Eddie Bauer Edition Ford debuted: the limited edition "Eddie Bauer Bronco." Eddie Bauer was a popular style in Ford cars. The partnership ended in 2010, with the 2010 Explorer and Expedition the last two models available in Eddie Bauer edition.
The following Ford vehicles were available in Eddie Bauer editions:
- Bronco (1984–1996)
- Explorer (1991–2010)
- Expedition (1997–2010)
- F-150 (1994–1996)
- Excursion (2003–2005)
- Taurus X (2008–2009)
- Aerostar (1988–1994)
1988–2009: Spiegel, Inc. and a standalone company
Spiegel catalog purchased Eddie Bauer from General Mills in 1988. Aggressive expansion continued and within the first year the company had expanded from 60 to 99 stores. By 1996, an additional 300 stores had been opened.
In 1991, Eddie Bauer launched Eddie Bauer Home, a collection of home furnishings, including furniture, tableware, decor items and linens. The collection was meant to appeal to the customers that purchased apparel from the company. The home store maintained a "warm and cozy" theme by presenting beds with thick blankets and floors covered with wool rugs.
In 1996, Eddie Bauer launched its Web site, www.eddiebauer.com, establishing a third channel of distribution to complement the retail and catalog divisions. The company launched EBTEK, a new product line, including both the EBTEK System of high-performance interlocking outerwear, and EBTEK casual activewear. The EBTEK System includes fabrics such as Gore-Tex, Polartec 200, and Eddie Bauer Premium Goose Down. Eight new stores opened in Japan that year, bringing the total to 14 stores and three outlets. Eddie Bauer Germany also opened two new stores in Germany.
Eddie Bauer continued to expand in North America and internationally throughout 1997, opening the 500th U.S. store. Internationally, Eddie Bauer Japan opened 11 new stores, bringing the total to 24 stores in Japan, along with four outlet stores in various locations.
In 1997, Eddie Bauer Germany opened five new stores, bringing the total to seven Eddie Bauer stores in Germany. Eddie Bauer enters into a licensing agreement with the Lane Company, offering an exclusive collection of Eddie Bauer Home by Lane furniture.
By 1998, over 500 stores had been opened in North America (556), Japan (32), and Germany (9). Eddie Bauer entered into a three-year licensing agreement with Giant Bicycle, Inc., to launch a line of Eddie Bauer Edition mountain bikes for off-terrain and city riding. Eddie Bauer and Signature Eyewear joined to produce the Eddie Bauer Eyewear collection for men and women. Additionally, Eddie Bauer and Cosco, Inc., joined to build upon Eddie Bauer's "Baby by Eddie Bauer" collection of Eddie Bauer Home merchandise for infants.
In 1999, Safeco Field, the new home of the Seattle Mariners, signed a two-year sponsorship agreement with Eddie Bauer, establishing Eddie Bauer as the official apparel sponsor of Safeco Field event staff through the 2000 season.
Also in 1999, Eddie Bauer presented American Forests with a check for $2.5 million, representing the 2.5 million trees planted nationally through Eddie Bauer's "Add a Dollar, Plant a Tree" retail program. Eddie Bauer's 100th birthday is celebrated with the culmination of national "Building Cities of Green" tree planting tour, in Seattle, Washington. On October 19, Eddie Bauer retail stores distribute one-half million trees to customers in honor of company founder. The one-millionth Eddie Bauer Edition Ford rolled off the assembly line.
In 2000, Signature Eyewear launched Eddie Bauer performance sunwear featuring Oakley XYZ Optics. National Geographic Ventures joined forces with Eddie Bauer to include the corporate sponsorship of a new giant screen film on Lewis & Clark. Other elements included a multi-tiered travel alliance and Eddie Bauer sponsorships of Radio Expeditions (a National Geographic and National Public Radio co-production) and the National Geography Bee. Eddie Bauer opened a store in Honolulu, Hawaii, completing Eddie Bauer's entry into all 50 American states.
Also in 2000, Eddie Bauer launched its first exclusively on-line business venture, eddiebauerkids.com. Eddie Bauer joined forces with American Forests to launch the Wildfire ReLeaf program, established to help in the restoration of land decimated by forest fires in 2000.
In 2001, Eddie Bauer teamed with American Recreation Products through a licensing agreement to launch a collection of camping equipment. Eddie Bauer was awarded the Hispanic College Fund Corporation of the Year award. The NAACP, Washington, D.C. Urban League, and the Seattle Urban League awarded Eddie Bauer with Corporate Sponsorship Awards. Eddie Bauer launched the first annual Add a Dollar to Your Local Community Charity program during the Eddie Bauer Associate Giving Campaign, and each of the 550-plus Eddie Bauer stores selected their own local charity to donate the funds raised in their local store. Eddie Bauer associates and customers raised nearly $1,000,000 for the victims of 9/11.
Bankruptcies and reorganization
Two years later Spiegel filed for bankruptcy. It sold its flagship catalog business and its Newport News women's apparel unit and announced that Eddie Bauer Inc. was up for auction. Meanwhile, more than 200 Eddie Bauer stores were closed. The company's corporate headquarters, in Redmond, Washington, was sold to the Microsoft Corporation.
Despite interest from companies like L.L. Bean, Bain Capital, and Cerberus Capital Management, Spiegel pulled Eddie Bauer from auction due to lack of a satisfactory offer. Spiegel then reorganized around the Eddie Bauer business with Eddie Bauer emerging as a standalone company with portions of its stock owned by Fidelity Investments, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan Chase. In 2006, the independent company Eddie Bauer Holdings hired Goldman Sachs to explore a possible future sale.
On June 17, 2009, Eddie Bauer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company said it planned to sell itself for $202 million to CCMP Capital Advisors, a private equity firm. Bank of America, GE Capital and the CIT Group have agreed to provide up to $100 million in financing during the bankruptcy case. The sale to CCMP will proceed through what is known as a 363 sale process in bankruptcy court. A judge would need to approve the sale, and other potential bidders could emerge. CCMP, as a so-called stalking horse bidder, is entitled to a $5 million breakup fee if it loses during the court-supervised auction process. "We’re not looking to liquidate the company or close most of the stores", said Jonathan Lynch, a CCMP managing director, as quoted in The New York Times report. The report continued: "CCMP first took a look at Eddie Bauer in 2004, but was dissuaded from making an investment because the company was then focused on becoming a women's casual apparel chain, along the lines of J. Jill or Talbots. ... A new management team led by Fiske began returning the company ... toward its outdoor adventure roots" and led to the renewed contacts with CCMP. The company was acquired at bankruptcy auction by Golden Gate Capital in July 2009.
In May 2013, Eddie Bauer joined with Disney, Nike, Patagonia, Quiksilver, and Todd Oldham to be the first apparel brands to join the Otis Sustainability Alliance. This is a partnership between the fashion industry and higher education that aims to advance environmental, social and economic sustainability.
According to Women's Wear Daily, in 2014, Joseph A. Bank Clothiers, Inc. "have been in talks about an acquisition" with Eddie Bauer and, in February 2014, announced that "it will acquire Eddie Bauer in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $825 million." In March 2014, it was announced that Men's Wearhouse would buy out Jos. A. Bank and that Jos. A. Bank would not acquire Eddie Bauer.
In July 2020, According to a federal court filing in California, an Eddie Bauer LLC client has dismissed his allegations claiming the company fooled outlet consumers with fake promotions and make-up comparison rates. Jackie Fisher said he had purchased 50% off branded fleece jackets because he felt he was having a decent deal on genuine merchandise from Eddie Bauer.
Eddie Bauer Japan, Inc., a joint venture between Eddie Bauer, Inc. and Otto-Japan, Inc. (a fully owned subsidiary of the German Otto group), was formed in 1994 to develop Eddie Bauer stores and distribute catalogs in Japan. The company also has the licensing rights for the use of Eddie Bauer trademarks in Japan. The company opened its first store in September 1994 in Tokyo.
In June 1995, Eddie Bauer Germany was announced as part of a joint venture between Eddie Bauer Inc. and two members of the Otto-Versand Group (now Otto GmbH & Co KG): Heinrich Heine GmbH (Heine Group) and Sport Scheck. The venture, headquartered in Munich allowed for catalog distribution and store openings in Germany. Eddie Bauer entered the German market in 1994 with inserts in the spring/summer and fall/winter editions of Sport Scheck, one of the country's largest catalogs before Eddie Bauer Germany was announced and began distributing two Eddie Bauer catalogs a year in Germany for the spring/summer and fall/winter seasons. Eddie Bauer Germany was acquired in November 2014 by Eddie Bauer Holdings, Inc.
In 1953, the Third American Karakoram Expedition made the fifth attempt since 1909 to climb K2. Team member Art Gilkey died in an apparent avalanche during the team's descent. His body was lost until 1993 when it emerged from the glacier about a mile from the base camp. Gilkey was still wearing his red Eddie Bauer down parka, an item that was standard issue for the members of the expedition.
On 5 July 1958, Pete Schoening and Andy Kauffman were the first men to stand atop Gasherbrum I, the 11th highest mountain in the world. Eddie Bauer supplied the eight man American expedition with "Kara Koram Parkas" that utilized a rip-stop nylon shell.
On 1 May 1963, around 1:00 pm Jim Whittaker, outfitted in Eddie Bauer outerwear became the first American to stand atop Everest, the worlds highest mountain at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet). The American Mt. Everest Expedition had to walk the 180 miles from Kathmandu, Nepal, to base camp with 27 tons of gear taking a month and 900 porters. At the end of April expedition leader Norman Dyhrenfurth informed Whittaker that he and Nawang Gombu Sherpa would make the first summit attempt.
Three weeks after Whittaker and Gombu reached the top of Everest, four other team members followed suit on 22 May. Lute Jerstad and Barry Bishop followed the same South Col route as Whittaker but Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld attempted the West Ridge route that had previously never been attempted. The four planned to meet at the top where Jerstad and Bishop would lead Hornbein and Unsoeld down via the South Col. Hornbein and Unsoeld made the first ascent of the West Ridge but not until 6:00 pm. Having waited as long as they could Jerstad and Bishop headed down the South Col alone. Hornbein and Unsoeld followed their teammates boot tracks down and met up around 10:00 pm at 28,000 feet. The four were forced to bivouac and used their Eddie Bauer down clothing for shelter.
Every member of the American Mt. Everest Expedition 1963 was outfitted from head to toe with Eddie BAUER 100% northern goose down insulated parkas, pants, underwear, mitts, booties and sleeping bags.— 1965 Eddie Bauer Advertisement
In 1965, Mount Kennedy was North America's highest unclimbed peak. The National Geographic Society asked Jim Whittaker to lead an expedition to Mt. Kennedy in Canada's Yukon. Whittaker's team included Senator Robert F. Kennedy who, on 24 March became the first man to reach the summit.
When I went climbing with Robert [Kennedy], I picked him up at the airport, took a look at his Abercrombie & Fitch yellow jackets and said, this won’t do ... With Eddie Bauer, there will be no kid left inside!— Jim Whittaker
In 1958 and 1965, Eddie Bauer went to the South Pole as part of scientific expeditions. In 1966 the American Antarctica Mountaineering Expedition set out to climb the major Antarctic peaks. All the climbs were successful making first ascents of the six highest mountains in the Sentinel Range. One of the first ascents took place on December 18 when Pete Schoening, William Long, James Corbet and John Evans reached the summit of Vinson Massif, one of the world's "Seven Summits" and Antarctica's highest mountain. Expedition leader, Nicholas Clinch wrote a letter to Eddie Bauer from Vinson Camp II stating
Our existence in these mountains is one long struggle to stay warm. Everyone agrees that it would be impossible to survive, let alone climb, without our superb Bauer down equipment, which protects us 24 hours a day. My Bauer down jacket is my happiness and security blanket-when I am not wearing it, it is never more than an arm's length away. A large share of the credit for the success of this expedition can be attributed to our Bauer equipment, which is the finest we have ever seen.
Dr. James Morrissey led the American Dhaulagiri Expedition that set out to summit the 7th highest mountain in the world. Eddie Bauer developed the Kara Koram Expedition pants for the Dhaulagiri expedition as well as providing the team with Kara Koram Expedition parkas and sleeping bags. On 12 May 1973, John Roskelley and Louis Reichardt made the first American ascent of Dhaulagiri with Nawang Samden Sherpa. They did so without using supplemental oxygen making Dhaulagiri the highest peak at the time to be summited without bottled oxygen.
In the summer of 1977, Galen Rowell organized a 6-man expedition to Pakistan's Great Trango Tower, a 20,623-foot unclimbed granite spire. Expedition member, John Roskelley wrote to Eddie Bauer requesting that he be able to use the down gear originally intended for an unsuccessful spring expedition to Makalu on the Trango expedition and the company agreed. On 21 July, all five climbers of the expedition are the first in history to reach the summit.
|1953||K2||Charles Snead Houston|
|1954||Makalu||William Siri||First Attempt|
|1958||Gasherbrum I||Nicholas B. Clinch||First Ascent: Pete Schoening & Andy Kauffman|
|1958||Masherbrum||Nicholas B. Clinch||First Ascent: George Irving Bell & Willi Unsoeld|
|1963||Everest (South Col)||Norman Dyhrenfurth||First American Ascent: Jim Whittaker|
|1963||Everest (West Ridge)||Norman Dyhrenfurth||First Ascent: Tom Hornbein & Willi Unsoeld|
|1965||Kennedy||Jim Whittaker||First Ascent: Robert F. Kennedy|
|1966||Vinson Massif||Nicholas B. Clinch||First Ascent: Pete Schoening, William Long, James Corbet & John Evans|
|1973||Dhaulagiri||Dr. James Morrissey||First American Ascent: John Roskelley and Louis Reichardt|
|1974||Lenin Peak||Pete Schoening||First American Ascent: Pete Schoening, Frank Sarnquist, Chris Kopczynski and Molly Higgins|
|1976||Nanda Devi (North Ridge)||Louis Reichardt, Ad Carter, Willi Unsoeld & Nanda Devi Unsoeld||First Ascent: John Roskelley, Jim States & Louis Reichardt|
|1977||Great Trango Tower||Galen Rowell||First Ascent: Galen Rowell, John Roskelley, Dennis Hennek, Kim Schmitz and Dr. Jim Morrissey|
|1977||Makalu||John Roskelley||First American Ascent: John Roskelley|
|1983||Everest (East Face)||Dr. Jim Morrissey||First Ascent: Louis Reichardt, Carlos Buhler & Kim Momb|
First Ascent gear tests
In October 2008 Eddie Bauer personnel joined with Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI) guides to field test First Ascent gear in a real world high altitude expedition environment on Cotopaxi, a 5,897 meters (19,348 ft) active volcano in the Andes Mountain Range in Ecuador.
January 2008 a similar gear test by Bauer personnel and RMI guides took place on Cerro Aconcagua in the Andes of Argentina, the highest mountain in the Americas. After a storm high on the mountain not all the clients were able to make the summit.
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