LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hillerich & Bradsby, the Louisville-based manufacturer of baseball bats since 1884, has sold the brand rights to its signature product for $70 million.
Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods, the official glove of Major League Baseball, has acquired the global brand, sales and innovation rights to Louisville Slugger.
Under the agreement, H&B will become the exclusive manufacturing partner for Wilson of wood bats. The bats will continue to be made at the downtown Louisville factory. H&B will continue to operate the Louisville Slugger Museum as well downtown.
As part of the deal, 52 current H&B employees will lose their jobs. Those employees mostly work in H&B's Louisville back office and will be notified throughout the day Monday. CEO John Hillerich says H&B currently has 273 employees; 177 people will remain with H&B and 44 will move to Wilson. Hillerich says the employees who will be "displaced" were the most difficult part of the deal.
H&B will continue to own and operate Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. The deal does not include H&B's Bionic Gloves division and Powerbilt golf brand.
Hillerich says resources are limited as the company continues to operate. The sale of the brand allows H&B to have access to more resources with Wilson in manufacturing the iconic bats. In addition, the inflow of cash will allow H&B to invest in the Bionic Gloves division and make upgrades at the museum.
The deal is pending the approval of H&B shareholders.