Sportsman’s Warehouse had a poor first quarter this year, losing both the Gander Mountain bid as well as $3.8 million in earnings, according to a conference call with financial analysts.
John Schaefer, the company’s CEO, blamed “softness in firearm demand” for the disappointing sales, noting that he is “maintaining a conservative approach for the second quarter.”
The company’s numbers look especially dismal, Schaefer explained, compared to last year’s first and second quarters, which saw a rise in firearm and ammunition demand in the wake of the San Bernardino and Orlando nightclub shootings.
Poor sales may have prevented the company from purchasing several Gander Mountain stores earlier this year. Gander Mountain filed for bankruptcy on March 10, 2017, and Sportsman’s Warehouse placed a bid on a subset of “well positioned stores.”
“We made a bid for these assets and inventory as part of the bankruptcy auction,” Schaeffer told analysts Thursday. “However, when the price of those assets exceeded the price we were willing to pay for the assets, we chose not to continue with the auction process.”
Still, despite the company’s poor numbers comparative to last year, Schaefer gave investors cause to be optimistic. The previous year saw historically high firearms and ammunition sales, and this year’s drop in demand still represents an overall acceptable performance.
“As we said previously, the underlying demand in this department remains strong when compared to historical levels, partially driven by increased participation rates in outdoor shooting sports as more women and children participate, despite the year-over-year decline in hunting and shooting,” Schaefer said during a conference call with investors Thursday.
“We are also encouraged to see that a significant portion of our sales continued to be generated from the use category, especially in our rural markets which are typically more stable and consistent over time compared to protection purchases and skews toward the historical 5 percent to 8 percent annual growth rate.”
Schaefer also believes his company’s balance between locally-owned sporting goods stores and big box national chains will result in continued success.
“Despite the recent slowdown in firearm demand across the industry, we believe we are the best positioned retailer in our niche to capture market share,” Schaefer said in a press release, because Sportsman’s Warehouse provides “convenience as a neighborhood store in larger markets or big box appeal in smaller markets.”
The company opened four new stores in the first quarter and ended the quarter with 79 stores in 22 states. They plan to open 12 more stores in 2017.