Bozeman shoe company Oboz Footwear has been acquired by New Zealand-based outdoor retailer Kathmandu in a deal worth as much as $75 million, the companies announced this week.

The move will not affect Oboz’s headquarters on the corner of Olive Street and Wallace Avenue or the company’s 22 Bozeman employees, said founder John Connelly, who will continue as CEO and president.

The deal comprises a $60 million payment and up to another $15 million based on Oboz’ future financial performance.

The two companies have a long history, with Kathmandu the second retailer after REI to sell Oboz boots, sandals and shoes following the Montana company’s founding in 2007.

“It was about finding the right partner and somebody I’m comfortable leaving my baby with,” Connelly said. “We share many of the same values, so it’s a little bittersweet, but it’s really positive.”

The acquisition will allow Oboz to grow its distribution, particularly in European and Asian markets, Connelly added. Oboz footwear is currently sold in more than 1,500 stores around the world.

The shoes are made in two factories in Vietnam and distributed from a warehouse in California, leaving the Bozeman office to handle everything from sales and marketing to customer service. Connelly said he expects to add employees in Bozeman over the coming months.

“It’s a good marriage and they can certainly provide us with some resources,” he said of the acquisition.

A publicly traded company with roughly 2,000 employees and annual sales of around $315 million, Kathmandu operates more than 160 stores across Australia and New Zealand.

Connelly, who opened his first outdoor shop in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, in 1971, moved to Bozeman in 2000. Oboz (a portmanteau of outside and Bozeman) sold its first shoes — sporting names like Hyalite, Mendenhall and Gallatin — beginning in early 2008.

“The brand for the last 10 years has been very tied to Bozeman, to Montana and to the greater Yellowstone area. That ended up being part of our success,” Connelly said. “Had we not been in Bozeman, all of this would not have been possible.”

Connelly added that Oboz will likely look to expand into other gear categories with “Bozeman DNA” in the near future.

“I still love it and I have a great team and a whole lot of great customers. I’m 71 so I knew at some point I couldn’t do this forever, but I plan on doing it for at least two more years,” he said. “I love the business and the outdoor industry is a great industry to be in.”

Kendall can be reached at 406-582-2651 or He is on Twitter at @lewdak

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