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June 15, 2011

Varsity Brands and Herff Jones Merge

Varsity Brands, Inc., the leading provider of education training and equipment for the school spirit market, announced that it has reached an agreement to merge with Herff Jones, a leading manufacturer and publisher of educational products, recognition awards and graduation-related items.

The merger joins two powerhouse entities that primarily market to high schools and colleges throughout the United States. According to Varsity founder and CEO Jeff Webb, merger discussions commenced several months ago as the management teams of both organizations began to explore synergistic expansion opportunities as well as cultural similarities.

“We see this as a great next step in our company’s journey to provide the very best products and services to the young people who are our customers,” Webb said. “This merger also provides unique opportunities to align two companies that have demonstrated a long term commitment to their respective employees.”

Varsity has built a reputation for excellence through televised competitions and special events, the largest educational camp programs for cheerleading and dance teams, an extensive line of uniforms and accessories, and a highly regarded website with a video-on-demand channel that garners 1.5 million video views per month. In the interest of supporting school spirit groups nationwide, Varsity has also developed close relationships with important partners, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the National Federation of State High School Associations and many individual state high school associations.

Herff Jones works closely with customers in academia, church organizations, sports teams and corporations to create a climate of achievement through graduation products, class rings and jewelry, yearbooks, educational publishing, and motivation and recognition tools.

“We have great admiration and respect for the unique organization and culture Varsity has built,” said Joe Slaughter, Herff Jones Chairman and CEO. “We see this merger as a huge opportunity for our two companies to create a stronger entity, which will benefit our customers.”

Within the Herff Jones umbrella, Varsity Brands will continue to operate independently with its own Board of Directors, led by Webb as Chairman and CEO of Varsity. With offices based in Memphis, Tenn., Dallas, and Los Angeles, Varsity has 900 full-time employees nationwide, with an additional workforce of 4,000 during their summer training camp season.

“This merger positions Varsity to serve all segments of the cheer community—college, high school and all star—and continue to provide the excellent service and products that these groups have come to expect,” adds Webb.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Close is planned for late August.