Roots Canada has sold a majority stake in the fashion company to private investment firm Searchlight Capital Partners.

Co-founders Michael Budman and Don Green said in an announcement Monday they have ceded control of the company they founded in Toronto in 1973 to "support the brand's next phase of growth."

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Searchlight, a private investment firm that provides strategic and operational support, says it has plans to make the Roots brand more international.

Roots established itself with negative heel shoes in the 1970s, then branched into outdoor wear and burst onto the international stage when it designed uniforms for the Olympic Games.

Roots Canada Searchlight

Roots co-founders with their new partners today at the brand's flagship store in Toronto: left to right are Roots co-founder Michael Budman, Searchlight co-founders Erol Uzumeri and Eric Zinterhofer, and Roots co-founder Don Green. (Roots)

It continues to operate 220 retail locations in Canada and also has locations in the U.S. and Asia. It operates a factory and distribution centre in Toronto for its leather goods. Roots products are designed in Canada.

Searchlight, which has offices in Toronto, New York and London, is taking over at a time when there is intense competition in the luxury fashion market.

Co-founders Green and Budman, who said they were inspired to create the brand by their love of the Canadian wilderness, will remain involved with the retailer.

"We have partnered with the Searchlight team as a result of their passion for Roots and their strong consumer experience with other exceptional brands," Green said in a news release.

Among those brands are M&M Meat Shops and Britain's Hunter Boot.

In a posting on the Roots website, the co-founders say the company will keep its Canadian headquarters, Canadian brand identity and Canadian factory.

"Searchlight and its co-founders understand and appreciate the importance of Canada to the brand's DNA," the posting says.

Searchlight has experience investing in "heritage brands," and will retain the same quality and ethical practices established by Roots co-founders, the posting says.