Authentic Brands Group CEO Jamie Salter has spent the coronavirus pandemic buying up the rights to struggling retailers including Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand, planning to license out their intellectual property for a profit.
ABG is a family business — all four of Salter's sons work with him at the licensing giant.
Authentic Brands made more than $500 million off the estates of Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, and Elvis Presley in 2017.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for DuJour
The coronavirus pandemic upended the businesses of companies in retail, but not Authentic Brands Group.
That could be due to the foresight of CEO Jamie Salter, who has used this time to assemble a vast portfolio of brands, adding Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand to a collection that already included Forever 21 and Barneys New York.
A representative for Salter at Authentic Brands Group (ABG) did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on the CEO's career, net worth, or real estate holdings.
Keep reading to learn more about Authentic Brands CEO Jamie Salter.
Jamie Salter, 57, is a natural salesman. Jamie Salter with model Behati Prinsloo in 2016.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for DuJour
The Canadian native's first job was in wholesale, selling windsurfing equipment to sporting goods stores in the 1980s, Forbes reported.
Salter quickly pivoted his career to focus on brand rehabilitation, however. He bought a snowboard business for $35,000, and grew it enough that he managed to sell it for $5 million four years later, per Forbes.
Salter is also an entrepreneur. He founded his own snowboard maker, Ride Snowboards, in 1996. Salter spent four years as Ride's CEO, leading it through an initial public offering on Nasdaq, before stepping down in 1996, according to The Seattle Times. Peter Jacobs, a Ragen MacKenzie analyst interviewed by The Times' Christopher Solomon shortly after Salter's departure, used a sports car analogy to explain the situation.
"Founders Pogue and Salter built a great sports car, but neither of them knew how to drive it, Solomon wrote of Jacobs' explanation. "Professional drivers now have been brought in to steer. Unfortunately, that leaves no more room in the front seat."
Authentic Brands Group (ABG) is far from Salter's first foray into licensing. Musician Patti Smith shoots with a Polaroid camera.
Before ABG, Salter bought and held various brands through a firm he named Lifestyle Brands, Forbes reported. Airwalk was among its biggest acquisitions. Salter went on to sell that company to now-defunct retailer Payless Shoesource for $85 million, per Forbes.
Slater then launched another licensing outfit in 2006, this time a private equity firm with business partner Jeff Hecktman, according to Forbes. That firm, Hilco Consumer Capital, purchased Polaroid, Sharper Image, and Linens 'N Things. Despite being described by The Wall Street Journal as the "force behind Hilco," Salter left the firm in 2010. The exact circumstances of Salter's departure from Hilco are unknown, but it was rumored to have been preceded by a dispute over Salter's compensation, The Globe and Mail reported.
Salter founded ABG in 2010. Jason Binn, founder and CEO at Authentic Brands Group Jamie Salter circa May 2016 in New York City.
Salter invested $20 million of his own money to launch ABG, Forbes reported.
The company's primary business model is to purchase iconic retailers that have gone defunct and broker deals to license their intellectual property out to other firms, according to The New York Times. ABG collects royalties between 4% and 6% on such deals.
The strategy has proved to be quite profitable. ABG has revenues of $400 million, Forbes reported in 2018 — and that was before it acquired Lucky Brand and Brooks Brothers.
Salter's company now has a vast variety of retailers under its control. A Forever 21 store in New York City's SoHo.
Joey Hadden/Business Insider
The rights to Aéropostale, Forever 21, Nautica, Juicy Couture, Brooks Brothers Inc., Lucky Brand Dungarees LLC, and Barneys New York are now owned by ABG, according to the company's website.
When looking for new brands to add to his portfolio, Salter told The New York Times that a long brand history and the ability to cut costs are among his top considerations. "Does it have good archives we can bring back, because the world repeats itself all the time," Slater told The Times. "The longer the history, the better."
Authentic Brands does share control of some of its properties with mall operator Simon Property Group, allowing physical retail locations to pay rent based off their current sales, per The Times.
ABG also owns the licensing rights to a handful of dead celebrity icons. Marilyn Monroe.
L. J. Willinger/Getty Images
ABG also owns the exclusive rights to the likenesses of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jackson, Bloomberg reported. Their estates earned ABG a combined $509 million in 2017, according to Forbes. ABG has inked multimillion-dollar deals with Chanel No. 5 and Coca-Cola for Monroe alone, per Forbes.
"There's not a lot of the estates in this sort of icon business exploiting these assets correctly," Salter told Forbes in 2018. "They live off the music or off certain parts of the assets. They're not building them into long-term brands. I think it's not that they wouldn't. They just don't know how."
Authentic Brands represents some living celebrities too, like Shaquille O'Neal, per Forbes. The partnership has helped O'Neal land a variety of endorsement deals, including with home security brand Ring. O'Neal is also an investor in ABG.
While the pandemic sent a record number of retailers into bankruptcy, Salter is steadily growing Authentic Brands. Brooks Brothers.
Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Salter told The Wall Street Journal that the pandemic made it easier for Authentic to acquire bigger brands. The company bought both Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand in mid-August.
"As the situation for retailers got worse generally, the deals got much bigger and better," Salter told The Journal.
Not all of ABG's brand deals have been popular. A shopping bag from Barneys New York.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The company's management of the Sports Illustrated brand was widely disparaged, The New York Times reported. After Authentic Brands purchased the rights to the magazine, it inked deals to sell a dizzying array of Sports Illustrated branded products from swimsuits to CBD oils, and sold editorial operations to a third party that promptly laid off several Sports Illustrated reporters.
Fearing the Barneys New York brand would meet the same fate after Authentic Brands acquired it in November 2019, a group led by another potential buyer launched a "Save Barneys" campaign on social media portraying Salter as "a villain who sought to dismantle a cultural institution," per The Times.
ABG's success has made Salter very wealthy. Jamie Salter and Corey Salter attend the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson Of The Year 2019 at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on December 09, 2019 in New York City.
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year 2019
Salter and his family own a 20% stake in Authentic Brands but their exact net worth is unknown, per The Wall Street Journal. Salter's four sons all work for the company, The New York Times reported. The eldest, Corey, is ABG's COO.
Salter owns a vacation home in a ritzy Ontario lake town. Shoreline of Brush Lake in Parry Sound / Muskoka area. Salter's property not pictured.
David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Salter owns a vacation home in Muskoka, Ontario, where he quarantined in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, per The Wall Street Journal. The area's lakefront is a hotspot for vacationing celebrities, with Kate Hudson, Cindy Crawford, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg reportedly owning vacation cottages nearby.
But the CEO spends most of his time in New York City, as Authentic Brands' headquarters in located in Times Square, according to Forbes. In 2012, Salter resided in a second-floor unit of a Chelsea luxury condo building, per The Wall Street Journal. The building made the news when a part of its facade collapsed on Christmas day of that year, The Journal reported at the time.
Even with all his success, Salter still has big ambitions for the future. Jamie Salter and Jason Rabin pose with DuJour's Jason Binn as he hosts the launch of Behati x Juicy Couture at PHD at Dream Downtown on March 23, 2016 in New York City.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for DuJour
ABG has as much as $1 billion on hand for further acquisitions, CNBC reported in August, so Salter's pandemic buying spree might not be over yet.
"There's no doubt about it that Jamie Salter's dream is to have an ABG department store," Salter told The New York Times. "And as David Simon says, maybe one day you'll have your own mall."
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