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Fireman Capital sells pricey Calif. jeans maker

Rival Joe’s paying $97.6m for Hudson

Fireman Capital Partners of Boston is selling its high-end jeans maker, Hudson Clothing Holdings Inc., to Joe’s Jeans Inc. for $97.6 million, tripling its investment in four years.

Hudson makes jeans that can cost around $200 and are popular with celebrities. They are sold predominantly in upscale department stores like Nordstrom and Saks.

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The sale marks the most successful investment yet for Fireman Capital, a private equity firm started in 2009 by the Fireman family that once owned sneaker giant Reebok International. Fireman invested $30 million in Hudson jeans in 2009, in one of its early deals.

Hudson and Joe’s Jeans are both headquartered in Los Angeles. Together, the two companies will be the third-largest premium denim company, after Seven jeans and True Religion.

“It’s a big day for us,’’ said Dan Fireman, the managing partner of Fireman Capital whose father owned Reebok and is chairman of the new firm.

Fireman Capital focuses on consumer businesses where it can build a big brand. Other investments have included Boulder, Colo., shoe maker Newton Running and a Utah craft beer maker, Salt Lake Brewing Co. The firm has made a total of seven investments so far, and has sold four of them, including juice maker Evolution Fresh Inc., which was purchased by Starbucks Corp. Fireman said the firm is close to closing two new investments.

Marc Crossman, chief executive of publicly traded Joe’s Jeans, said in a statement that the deal would nearly double the size of his company. He said the plan is to maintain Hudson’s separate facilities and employees. But there will likely be cost cuts: “We believe by leveraging our sourcing capabilities to realize cost savings across all three components of making a jean, from fabric, trim, to labor, [we] will significantly reduce our input costs,’’ he said.

The transaction with Joe’s Jeans, expected to close at the end of August, could help Fireman with his efforts to court investors. He and his partners are in the process of trying to raise a fund with $200 million to $300 million in capital.

Beth Healy can be reached at bhealy@globe.com.
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