Business

Modesto company founded by legend in 1968 closing distribution center after being sold

Royal Robbins, the outdoor clothing company with roots in Modesto going back 50 years, is closing its Modesto distribution center after it was purchased by a company based in Sweden. Loren White, Royal Robbins vice president for operations and sourcing, right, is overseeing the closing of the distribution center in Modesto, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.
Royal Robbins, the outdoor clothing company with roots in Modesto going back 50 years, is closing its Modesto distribution center after it was purchased by a company based in Sweden. Loren White, Royal Robbins vice president for operations and sourcing, right, is overseeing the closing of the distribution center in Modesto, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. aalfaro@modbee.com

Royal Robbins, the outdoor clothing company with roots in Modesto going back 50 years, is closing its Modesto distribution center after it was purchased by a company based in Sweden.

The distribution center on Princeton Avenue in central Modesto will close Oct. 31, said Loren White, Royal Robbins vice president for operations and sourcing. He said the Royal Robbins company was bought by Fenix Outdoor International in late March.

The Sweden-based company already has a distribution center in Colorado, so it’s consolidating its Royal Robbins distribution operations. White said 18 employees who work at the distribution center will be laid off.

He said the average tenure at the Modesto facility is 12 years, so they will receive an adequate severance package. Opportunity Stanislaus has visited the distribution center to offer the employees training for job interviews and creating resumes, and the employees have participated in job fairs at the center.

“I’m optimistic for them. This is a hearty group,” White said.

White has been with the Royal Robbins company for nearly 46 years; his future with the company has not yet been decided.

He said Fenix Outdoor International will increase the presence of the Royal Robbins brand at its stores, immediately increasing the brand’s growth.

The Royal Robbins stores in Modesto’s McHenry Village shopping center and in Berkeley will remain open, White said. The company also sells online and through several other retailers, which will continue.

The business was founded by rock climbing legends Royal and Liz Robbins of Modesto. It started in 1968 as Mountain Paraphernalia, which sold climbing gear. They added clothing a few years later under the Mountain Threads label. The company has been known as Royal Robbins since 1982.

Modesto entrepreneur Dan Costa bought the business in 2001 for an undisclosed amount. He sold it in 2003 to Phoenix Footwear Group Inc., based in Carlsbad, San Diego County, for $11.7 million. That owner sold it in 2007 to Kellwood Co. of St. Louis for about $40 million. It was later one of many holdings of Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co., based in New York City.

Royal Robbins died last year at 82. He left the company in 2001.

White Fenix Outdoor International has been selling outdoor and travel brands since 1960, He said it has a similar heritage and concept created by Royal Robbins, who considered health and getting outdoors as his primary business.

“It’s a really good match for the brand,” said White, who has been with the Royal Robbins company for nearly 46 years. “Fenix understands the value of the brand.”

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