Vista Outdoors is in trouble, and they know it. The parent company of Federal Premium Ammunition and several other companies know things aren’t good, so it’s time to shake things up a bit and make them better after earnings were slowed for the second quarter this year. That shake-up includes staffing, inventory, and products being offered, reportedly.
Chief Executive Officer Chris Metz, former president of Arctic Cat — a Minnesota-based snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle manufacturer — took the helm at Vista Oct. 10. He said Thursday the company needed to make changes to weather persisting post-election market conditions, starting with the elimination of Shooting Sports Segment President Bob Keller, “to allow our business leaders to drive changes faster and have clear line of sight to the goals at hand.”
Vista owns more than three dozen companies in firearms, ammunition and shooting accessories, including Savage Arms, Stevens, Federal Premium, Speer and American Eagle. It also holds brands in the outdoor lifestyle market.
Vista’s President of Firearms Al Kasper and President of Ammunition Jason Vanderbrink will lead the company’s shooting sports segment in Keller’s absence, Metz said.
“I am excited to combine my passion for these brands and this industry with my professional experience and deep background in consumer products,” Metz said in Vista’s regulatory filing published Thursday. “While I’ve only been here a short time, I realize we have much to do: we must make significant changes, act decisively, and move quickly to reposition and stabilize the company. We will take an aggressive position on profit improvement through both margin expansion and cost reductions across all areas of the core business.”
The reduction includes divesting three brands in the company’s sports protection business: Bollé, Serengeti and Cébé.
“These brands were acquired as part of the Bushnell transaction in 2013 and focus primarily on fashion, prescription and safety eyewear, which are areas that we have determined are not core to our business,” Metz said. “The sale of these brands is expected to take place over the next few quarters.”
Whether that’s smart or not depends on your perspective.
If these companies are doing well financially, it might not be the best idea out there to offer them up for sale. However, if they’re drawing attention and resources from Vista that could be going toward businesses that are considered more part of their core brands, then it does.
What’s important though is that it’s clear Vista is concerned and working to resolve the problem. Sale of these eyewear brands should infuse the company with some much-needed cash that will let them take a step back and figure out what the next step needs to be.
This is, ultimately, good for the gun community for the simple reason that it makes sure a company that provides us the kind of products we love. More companies mean more competition, which means better prices and better products, and that means a win for all of us.
Yet that only happens if these brands continue to be part of a viable company going forward.