Brunswick Corp. has bought itself a boat club.
The company announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Freedom Boat Club, the largest boat club operator and marine franchisor in the nation. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Founded in 1989, Freedom Boat Club has over 20,000 members with access to a fleet of nearly 2,200 boats. The company has approximately 170 company-owned or franchised locations across 30 states, Canada and Europe.
“As the leader in the boat club segment, Freedom offers both immediate scale and an established marketplace presence and expertise,” said Brunswick Chief Executive Officer David M. Foulkes in a press release. “FBC’s profitable and cycle-resistant business model is an excellent fit within our marine portfolio.
“Importantly, FBC strengthens our ability to benefit from the growth in the broader sharing economy and exposes a wider range of consumers to the boating lifestyle. The growth of the marine industry depends on increasing the number of active boating participants and ensuring that they have a great experience on the water.”
John Giglio and the current management team will continue to lead Freedom Boat Club. Over the last five years, FBC has nearly doubled its location footprint and tripled its membership base.
“We’re very excited to join Brunswick,” Giglio said. “Our knowledge and experience of the growing boat club industry, combined with Brunswick’s leading marine resources, will provide FBC and its franchise partners with many new opportunities to accelerate growth and create value, while enhancing the best-in-class boating experience we aim to provide our members.”
“The addition of Freedom Boat Club to our leading portfolio of marine brands will allow us to leverage resources and capabilities to create additional growth and value,” said Brenna Preisser, president of Brunswick Business Acceleration. “Our current and prospective franchisees will be supported with a unique suite of new products and services to help them grow and provide exceptional on-water experiences for members.”
Brunswick, which owns Mercury Marine and several boat manufacturers, is expected to integrate its boat and power plants into the clubs.
Following the completion of the transaction, FBC will become part of Brunswick’s Business Acceleration group, which includes Brunswick’s Boating Service Network (BSN). Through BSN, Brunswick has participated in the boat club and rental market since 2014, establishing a series of partnerships and pilot operations with both select dealers and marina operators.
The acquisition is expected to close during the second quarter of 2019.