Vista Outdoor, the owner of bike brands, Bell, Blackburn, Giro, CamelBak, Raskullz, Krashco, Copilot and Bollé, has decided to sell the majority of its bike industry holdings.
Bell, Blackburn, Giro, Raskullz, Krashco and Copilot are to be sold. Vista Outdoors will, however, retain CamelBak. Vista reports that a sale of eyewear maker Bollé is already in the works and it plans to sell its other optics brands, Cebe and Serengetti.
CEO Chris Metz announced during an investor conference call that the company would also sell its two firearms brands, Savage and Stevens, so that it could return to a “laser focus on its target consumer.” The upshot is that its strategy to expand out of ammunition in an effort to diversify and stabilize its revenue stream has been cast aside in an effort to return to its original strategy.
During the call Metz claimed that the company had been on the path to sell the bike brands before the Parkland shooting and the resulting boycott. According to Metz, REI represented less than 1 percent of Vista Outdoor’s total sales, so the falloff, he claims, didn’t hurt much; he also stated that while some other retailers sided with REI, there were others that stepped up and said they wanted to take advantage of the situation.
Despite Metz’ statements to the contrary, I can’t help but believe that the boycott had an effect. And of the many effects the boycott could have had, I’ll say that this is the best possible one, and also the one I thought was least likely. As I wrote previously, my concern was that good and talented people would be laid off as a result of a falloff in sales. And some of that did happen; some people have been laid off from Bell. I’m just grateful far more people didn’t lose their jobs.
Whether or not Vista Outdoors was on a path to shed their bike brands, it’s reasonable to conclude that the company was unwilling to make any announcement in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, lest it appear that they were cowed by public pressure. The only thing worse than a PR black eye is an investor black eye. Losing face to investors was the one outcome they couldn’t risk, which I believe is why two months passed before they announced a decision the CEO says was already in the works.
It would be pretty two-faced of me to do an about-face and tell the world how well the boycott worked. I think the bike industry got relatively lucky here, and that the outcome could have been really ugly. It’s a situation I sincerely hope we don’t encounter again, but I’m grateful that Vista will sell the companies. The real opportunity here is to find owners for those brands that will invest in them and give them a chance to do their jobs well.
If you value independent media, please lend your support to RKP.
To learn more about our new subscription program, please read this.