Aug. 11--Independent retailers and e-commerce will play a key role in helping Vista Outdoor regain momentum as it faces sluggish markets for ammunition and the products it sells for shooting, camping and other recreation.
That approach was unveiled Thursday in a conference call for stock market analysts after Vista Outdoor reported a dramatic drop in net income for April, May and June.
Net income was $16.6 million for the three months ending July 2, compared with $29.1 million for the same time last year at the company that employs about 1,375 people in its Lewiston ammunition operations, which have been shrinking through attrition.
Vista Outdoor's per-share stock price was $21.86 after the close of the market Thursday.
Data indicate "consumers are buying, but just not to the extent they normally would this time of year," said Interim Chairman and CEO Michael Callahan.
Vista Outdoor joined its competitors in offering incentives like rebates to encourage consumers to buy pistol, shot shell, .223 and 5.56 ammunition that has been languishing on the shelves of independent retailers and distributors since the fall.
Sales have suffered as gun enthusiasts and wholesalers work through stockpiles of cartridges they apparently amassed before the presidential election, possibly fearing new regulations with a Hillary Clinton win.
Big box stores have been restrained in their spending at a time when e-commerce is changing the retail landscape and 45 million square feet of retail space has been lost since 2015, Callahan said.
"They have been ... keeping a lot of ... dollars in their hip pocket," Callahan said. "They are not currently out there in the market making big purchases. They have certainly placed their stocking orders, but beyond that, they're sitting pat."
Vista has a number of plans on tap to improve its performance, such as cultivating stronger relationships with independent retailers, which account for about 70 percent of the shooting sports business, Callahan said.
Yet traditionally they have represented less than 50 percent of Vista Outdoor's volume in that category, with the bulk coming from big box stores as well as military and law enforcement, said Chief Financial Officer Stephen Nolan.
Helping independent retailers capture purchases that had been made at large chains that have since closed is part of what Vista will do moving forward, Callahan said.
Vista Outdoor also will strengthen its e-commerce by bolstering its "direct-to-consumer" options as it drives sales to big box stores and distributors that serve independent retailers, Callahan said.
"We're going to be conducting most of this through the brands and they'll (have) their own websites."
Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.
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