In announcing less than stellar year-end results last week, Camping World Holdings Inc. Chairman Marcus Lemonis told Wall Street the public company and parent of Overton’s and Gander Outdoors does not “and have never wanted to be a big box retailer. That is not our goal.”
In FY18, Camping World consolidated separate management teams for Gander Outdoors, Camping World RV and outdoor retail into a single unit; shuttered 7 Gander stores and two Camping World locations that were not profitable; shrunk its distribution center network to three from four; and merged all inventory onto a single platform so that it all could be sold online.
Gander Outdoors now has about a third as many stores as it did when Lemonis and team acquired it. And he is signaling that there is no intention to grow it into a much larger chain, but rather the intent is to leverage Gander Outdoors with Camping World’s other holdings.
The company suffered an unspecified annual loss within retail, which will be detailed in CWH’s annual report, as total FY18 retail sales rose 65 percent to nearly $670 million. Camping World also spent nearly $43.2 million on Gander pre-opening expenses last year, including almost $2.4 million in the final quarter. Camping World currently has 56 Gander locations.
“…I hope everybody understands that you are talking about a business (retail) that added a number of locations, a 46 percent increase in footprint over the year,” CFO Mel Flanigan told analysts. “And as we ramp up sales, we are going to be able to cover more of the overhead more efficiently, and we will see things start to turn.”
Lemonis, meanwhile, defended the company’s current business portfolio. “I feel strongly that Gander RV and Gander Outdoors is a nice complement to Camping World. And whether that’s in certain states or certain markets, whether that’s in markets where there is already a Camping World, we believe that the RV and outdoor consumer is one in the same and that the offering inside of these stores looks pretty similar.”