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Vista Outdoor will look to sell off Bell, Giro, Blackburn

Posted by on May 1st, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Vista Outdoor Inc has just announced a “strategic business transformation plan” that includes seeking buyers for popular bike brands Bell, Giro, and Blackburn.

The move comes just over two months after the company came under severe scrutiny in the bike and outdoor industries for its financial support of the National Rifle Association and its distribution of assault-style weapons.

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Portland bike shops were among the first in the country to announce outright boycotts of the brands due to their connection with Vista Outdoor. “We will not buy products from Bell, Giro, and Blackburn,” Sellwood Cycle Repair owner Erik Tonkin told us back in February. Tonkin said one outcome he hoped for was for the brands to be sold by Vista.

In their statement today, Vista doesn’t mention anything about the boycott or the NRA flap at all. “The plan is a result of a comprehensive strategic review, which began in November 2017.”

And here’s more on that from BicycleRetailer.com:

In an investor conference call Tuesday, Vista Outdoor CEO Chris Metz said the canceled orders had little effect on the company. Answering an investor question, Metz noted that REI represents less than 1 percent of the company’s total sales.

“As we look at the rest of it, there’s been some puts and takes: So we’ve had some small independent dealers that sided with the REI side and we’ve had some independent dealers, frankly, that stepped up and said, ‘We want to take advantage of this market opportunity and replace that volume.’ In total it’s built into our guidance and expectations, and fortunately we have been on this path of strategically determining where we wanted to guide the company way before any of the noise came about eight weeks ago.”

β€” Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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35 Comments
  • BradWagon May 1, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    And to think they could have just stopped supporting the NRA instead, lol.

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    • 9watts May 1, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      I thought the problem was that they (Vista) actually manufacture assault rifles…

      Wouldn’t want to sell off that division instead. Probably much too profitable.;-)

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      • BradWagon May 1, 2018 at 1:02 pm

        I believe they primarly manufacture ammunition. Can’t remember what actual equipment manufactures they owned… still though, not sure what even that has to do with supporting the NRA. Does the NRA somehow not allow you to sell guns unless they approve?

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        • Slow Joe Crow May 4, 2018 at 3:33 pm

          Vista currently owns Savage and Stevens which make rifles and shotguns. Both companies are also for sale. Savage makes several MSR models in addition to their better known bolt action rifles which is what aroused the gun grabbers ire.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy May 2, 2018 at 9:45 am

        Assault rifles as liberals define them or assault rifles as the statutes define them?

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        • rainbike May 2, 2018 at 10:15 am

          Perhaps they should be defined by actual use, rather than a physical characteristics shared with modern sporting rifles, such as an adjustable stock or pistol grip or flash suppressor.

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        • GlowBoy May 2, 2018 at 3:20 pm

          You mean the statutes whose language was defined by the weapons industry?

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          • rainbike May 2, 2018 at 4:01 pm

            Example please.

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    • Doug Hecker May 1, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      Or it could be, for them, better to sell ammunition then it is to sell cheap bike accessories.

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      • 9watts May 1, 2018 at 12:47 pm

        I don’t think we need recourse to the subjunctive here. It is very clearly ‘better’ as they define the term: $$$$

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        • Doug Hecker May 1, 2018 at 10:29 pm

          Yep, not sure of any business that can operate without making any money

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          • 9watts May 1, 2018 at 10:34 pm

            Um, the question isn’t money or no money, but whether the higher profits associated with selling guns and ammo are more important to these cheeses than sticking with product lines that arguably have social benefits (bike helmets) and (possibly) lower profit margins. I think it is pretty obvious how they answered that question, but there’s no reason to obfuscate the differences between ethics and profit margins as your comments keep trying to.

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            • q May 1, 2018 at 11:06 pm

              Exactly. There are plenty of bike helmet companies around that make money from selling bike helmets.

              And countless businesses make choices that are not based on maximizing profits.

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              • Doug Hecker May 2, 2018 at 10:17 am

                I think most times we forget that we live in Portland and while it’s nice to think that business thrive off of being nice and warm, many other places in the states have a bottom line mentality. Both can do well but we could or should be mindful that our values will and mostly likely not line up with every brand that we support. I know, hard to believe eh 9watts? πŸ™‚

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              • 9watts May 2, 2018 at 11:04 am

                “should be mindful that our values will and mostly likely not line up with every brand that we support. I know, hard to believe eh 9watts? ”

                Not sure what you’re trying to say here. Cognitive dissonance is a thing. And you are free to shop on Amazon or go to Walmart, their social impacts be damned, but that doesn’t mean everyone has the same decision priorities you do (or may have), or that those priorities are inviolable (see the example we’re discussing).

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      • BradWagon May 1, 2018 at 1:00 pm

        Why not just keep doing both and instead stop supporting the NRA? That’s like a win win win in terms of profit.

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        • Gary May 1, 2018 at 1:07 pm

          Even if that were the only problem, you seem to be assuming not supporting the NRA wouldn’t cause them losses from their weapons products that exceed the losses from their bike products lines. I think that’s a very bad assumption.

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        • Jon May 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm

          Vista is the largest manufacturer of ammunition and currently own Savage Arms that is a small player in the rifle market. If they are not a strong supporter of the NRA they will not sell much ammunition. Just look at what happened to Smith & Wesson after they agreed to some demands from Clinton in 2000 to try to keep guns out of the hands of people that were not allowed to buy them. S&W was almost put out of business by boycotts by the NRA and gun owerners. Vista must support the NRA to stay in the arms business. Evidently the boycott of Giro, Bell, and Blackburn is having enough of an impact on Vista for them to sell it before they lose too much market share.

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          • Dave May 1, 2018 at 1:45 pm

            Apparently they’re selling they’re Savage Arms and Stevens gun brands as well. I don’t think of Savage as selling much beyond basic hunting rifles, and I’ve never even heard of Stevens. Certainly not big players in the “tactical larper” scene.

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            • Chris I May 1, 2018 at 3:37 pm

              That seems to be the market trend. All the money is made selling to the crazies.

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        • John Lascurettes May 1, 2018 at 2:00 pm

          Companies like Vista are the NRA. That is, it’s who the NRA is lobbying for (their profits) in the Beltway, not for individual NRA members (many who have left or are dissatisfied with what the NRA has become).

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          • BradWagon May 2, 2018 at 9:02 am

            Ding Ding Ding.

            Which is why decisions like this expose Vista as the NRA front that they are. My original comment was in jest as obviously they would never stop supporting the only thing that keeps them alive. So lets just cut it with the “long term strategic decisions, blah blah blah”.

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          • GlowBoy May 2, 2018 at 3:19 pm

            Exactly. In terms of funding, the NRA is an Astroturf lobbying organization for arms manufacturers. Full stop.

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    • JJ May 1, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      Might want to research that a bit mate…

      https://vistaoutdoor.com/brands/

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  • JAT in Seattle May 1, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Is it too simple-minded of me to just think this is a good thing? America’s gun fetish isn’t going away, and I like Giro Helmets – if that brand is sold to someone else then I can keep buying them without (as previous: unwittingly) underwriting the fetish.

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  • John May 1, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Smart business decision. Like Dave mentioned it looks like they’re selling the Stevens and Savage brands as well. They’re smart to keep the ammunition brands as that’s a consumable and shooters are always buying ammo.

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    • ps May 2, 2018 at 10:45 am

      Agreed, read their 8K from last quarter. Gross profit was up from their outdoor brands, their ownership is a future liability to those profits, so sell now while numbers are good and keep the annuity ammunition business and refocus on the historical core business.

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  • bikeninja May 1, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Another organization learns their lesson the hard way. Beware the Wrath of Bike Portland.

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    • q May 1, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      Seriously, that’s true. It was something to see this go from individuals boycotting (so a sale or two lost to Vista) to small shops boycotting (more lost sales) to REI (many lost sales) to Vista selling the brands (all sales lost). Bikeportland was right in there from the beginning, helping set everything in motion, even if Vista has no idea who or what bikeportland is.

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      • Dan A May 2, 2018 at 6:45 am

        The All-Powerful Bike Lobby strikes again. Don’t miss next month’s meeting, we have great things in store.

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    • rainbike May 2, 2018 at 8:31 am

      A lot of people have said that Bike Portland deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for this. Believe me. A lot of people. And smart people too. Very smart people.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy May 2, 2018 at 9:48 am

        This is right up there with North Korea talking to South Korea.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 1, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    And remember…a lot of business leaders that happen to own manufacturing companies are no longer manufacturers first-and-formost…they are primarily investor groups moving paper…and debt…

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    • bikeninja May 1, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      Many of them like the private equity groups that took over the likes of Sears, Toys r Us, etc. are more like pirates than business leaders. They do a buy-out of a companies shares, load it up with debt, then strip out all the available cash in the form of fees and dividends. When the company is insolvent they leave it for dead ( bankrupt) and let the pensioners, employees, and creditors take the hit.

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