A shake-up at the top of one hockey’s biggest equipment companies has industry insiders curious as to what happens next – and also searching for motives.
CCM Hockey announced that Marrouane Nabih, who joined the company as CFO in 2019, will now take over as CEO of the venerable company, replacing the outgoing Rick Blackshaw. COO Peter Gilmore is also reportedly out. CCM has made a number of promotions, but none were at odds with Blackshaw, according to insiders.
Blackshaw was an energetic CEO, described by one insider as “larger than life.” Both he and Gilmore came from firm industry backgrounds so there’s no obvious indicator as to why they are out the door. By the same turn, Nabih is seen as a very bright and capable operator as well. Cost-cutting would be one easy answer for the moves, but insiders point to the spending CCM has done lately on special projects; so it’s obviously not a straight cash issue.
Needless to say however, the pandemic has hit a number of industries hard and the hockey equipment business is no exception. But CCM has not been uniquely hit in this regard. What is interesting is that both CCM and rival Bauer are both owned by private equity firms right now – CCM by Birch Hill and Bauer by Sagard Holdings (which is in turn owned by Montreal-based Power Corporation of Canada) and Fairfax Financial Holdings of Toronto.
Private equity firms typically hold portfolio companies for short durations, so the recent news has touched off talk of one or both hockey firms being offered up for sale at some point in the not-so-distant future.