July 12--Vista Outdoor's development of a direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform played a role in this week's early retirement of its chief executive officer.
The contract of former Vista Chairman and CEO Mark DeYoung, 58, would have expired in February 2018, but he approached some members of the company's board several months ago about his plans, said Michael Callahan, interim chairman and CEO in a conference call for stock market analysts Tuesday.
"It was more appropriate that someone who had a longer-term view of the company make those decisions rather than (DeYoung) making those decisions and quickly passing the baton over to someone else," said Chief Financial Officer Stephen Nolan.
Traditionally, Vista Outdoor has sold its ammunition and other outdoor recreation products like camp stoves, helmets and hydration systems at retailers such as Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and Cabela's. But the company has suffered with the bankruptcies of Sports Authority and other outdoor retailers.
"The market, as you know, is really evolving right now," Callahan said. "I'm not sure I'd call it an apocalypse, but certainly the retail market is in a turmoil. What we're seeing and what a lot of companies have to do is adapt now to how consumers want to shop and where they want to shop."
The right e-commerce strategy will boost sales and encourage consumers to shop more at Vista Outdoor's traditional retail partners, Callahan said.
The new CEO, who will oversee that initiative and others, will be from a business at least the size of Vista Outdoor. The individual will have a background in consumer products, but not necessarily be from the hunting and shooting sector, Callahan said.
"We believe the future of our company is in the general outdoor recreation area," Callahan said. "We're looking for somebody ... (who) has an appreciation and is a participant in one or several of the categories where we do business today."
The search for DeYoung's replacement will include internal and external candidates, but not Callahan, 67, who said Tuesday he is not interested in the job.
Vista Outdoor's next leader will join an executive team that has been through four other changes since January.
Dave Allen is president of the outdoor products segment. He was named to that job from senior vice president of sales for Vista and was previously president of Coleman USA for the Jarden Corp. Allen's new role was announced in mid-January, at the same time that Jason Vanderbrink was promoted from vice president of retail sales to senior vice president of sales.
Jennifer Anderson, who had been with Vista Outdoor and its predecessor company since 2001, was named vice president and treasurer after the retirement of Thomas Sexton.
Kenny Bement became Vista Outdoor's vice president and corporate controller in May, coming to Vista Outdoor from the parent company of Google, where he was controller of reporting and governance.
Those executives are grappling with a downturn in the gun and ammunition sector that followed the election of Republican Donald Trump to the White House.
In the fall, people stocked up on ammunition believing that Democrat Hillary Clinton would be president and impose new restrictions on gun owners. When that concern evaporated, shooters began using the ammunition they have and not buying as much.
Vista reported a loss of $274 million in net income in its most recent fiscal year. But the company has laid good groundwork in the first quarter of its new fiscal year and will share more details about that in an August report, Callahan said. "The company had a strong quarter that positions us well."
Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.
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