Barnes & Noble Education, which operates 775 bookstores at college campuses nationwide, scored a $15 million investment to improve its e-commerce operations as the pandemic drives more students and alumni to purchase merchandise online.
Licensed sports gear retailer Lids and online giant Fanatics — which owns half of Lids — are teaming up with the college store operator receiving more than 2.3 million shares in the company for their investment.
Shares of Barnes & Noble Education were up by more than 6 percent to about $4.40 early Monday on the news of the partnership.
The company operates stores, including official stores at Harvard, University of Michigan, Penn State and UNC, while Fanatics and Lids also offer college merchandise online and via Lids’ 1,200 shopping mall stores.
“This partnership has tremendous potential to improve the customer experience, increase selection and accelerate BNED’s growth,” Michael Huseby, chief executive of the college store operator said in a statement.
The college retail division was spun off from Barnes & Noble in 2015, becoming a separate publicly traded company while the larger bookstore chain was taken private last year by hedge fund operator, Elliot Management.
Billionaire Fanatics owner Michael Rubin, who is also a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, said Fanatics will take the lead on running the college bookstores e-commerce business while Lids will lend its merchandising expertise to the partnership.
In August, Fanatics — which is reportedly preparing to become a publicly traded company — closed on a $350 million funding round, valuing the company at about $6.2 billion.