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Denver-based firm laps up BlueMile running chain

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Denver-based Running Specialty Group on Thursday acquired BlueMile, a six-location running specialty store based in Indianapolis.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

RSG is a joint venture between Indianapolis-based The Finish Line Inc., a mall-based athletic footwear retailer with 638 stores across the U.S., and Denver-based Gart Capital Partners, a private equity partnership involved in the sporting goods industry.

RSG has been on a growth spurt recently, growing from 19 to 35 stores since October. RSG officials said they plan to expand BlueMile in the Midwest and possibly beyond.

“BlueMile is a perfect fit for RSG because they are the epitome of what we think of as a great running specialty store—a passion for their sport, a top-notch staff, close engagement with their customers and local communities, and the commitment to provide very personalized service—an element lacking in many ‘big box’ stores,” explains Ken Gart, partner of Gart Capital Partners.

BlueMile, which changed its name in 2010 from The Running Co., started as a single Broad Ripple store. The company opened stores in Fishers in 2004, Carmel in 2006, Greenwood in 2007 and Louisville—where it now has two stores—in 2010. Under co-founders Bob Kennedy and Ashley Johnson, both accomplished distance runners, the chain grew to more than 50 employees.

Kennedy sold his stake in the company to Johnson and his wife in September. Ironically, Kennedy announced on Wednesday that he is buying a majority share of Movin Shoes Inc., a chain of three specialty running and walking stores in Southern California.

Ashley Johnson, and his wife, Andrea, will continue to operate BlueMile, with Ashley heading up operations and customer service, and Andrea taking the lead on marketing and communications. The in-store staff will remain unchanged, and additional positions will be added as new stores open, the Johnsons said.

“This is a great opportunity for us to continue to focus on our passion for health and fitness while being part of a larger organization that will let us provide more opportunities for our staff,” said Ashley Johnson.

“BlueMile is exactly the type of specialty retailer we are looking for,” said Glenn Lyon, chairman and CEO of Indianapolis-based The Finish Line. “It’s a collection of well run stores with owners and staff that are passionate about their sport, customer service, and community. It’s exciting to partner with BlueMile since they were founded right here in the ‘backyard’ of Finish Line’s own corporate headquarters.”
 

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