The sporting goods conglomerate maintains it’s not jettisoning brands in response to massive retail boycotts earlier this year.
Months after it considered selling off its gun and bicycle brands, Vista Outdoor today trimmed its portfolio elsewhere. The Utah-based parent company announced it reached an agreement to sell its sunglasses brands Bollé, Cébé, and Serengeti. Bollé also manufactures goggles and helmets for cycling and skiing.
The divestiture follows Vista’s plan, announced this spring, to unload cycling brands Bell, Giro, and Blackburn. The company also previously announced it was looking to sell its Savage firearm brand. The moves followed massive industry boycotts of Vista brands in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February.
Today’s announcement marks the “first step” in a restructuring Vista outlined in May. According to Vista CEO Chris Metz, the sale of its eyewear brands to a European private equity fund “will be the first of several potential asset sales that will significantly reduce Vista Outdoor’s leverage and provide additional resources for us to reinvest in our core businesses.”
Vista Outdoor Sells Eyewear Brands, Retains CamelBak
Metz’s words suggest the brand could follow through on plans to sell its cycling and firearms assets. But Vista also reaffirmed its commitment to some of its other holdings.
In a statement, the brand said its “transformation plan” was designed to “focus resources on pursuing growth” in its core product categories. According to Vista, that includes ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories, outdoor cooking products, and hydration bottles and packs.
That last category contains one of Vista’s most visible outdoor brands, CamelBak. And it’s largely been the most notable brand pulled from retailer shelves, including at stores like REI and Canada’s MEC.
Vista Outdoor: Boycott and Debate
Vista Outdoor became a target of gun control advocates after a gunman killed 17 people and injured many more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
A viral social media post shared that several recreational equipment brands — Giro, Camelbak, Bell, Blackburn, and Jimmy Styks paddleboards — fell under Vista Outdoor ownership. The corporation also owns Federal Ammunition and Savage, a large maker of hunting rifles that also makes “modern sporting rifles” similar to the AR-15 used in the Parkland shooting.
The debate about Vista Outdoor remains heated. Anti-gun consumers lambaste the brand for supporting the NRA and manufacturing “assault rifles.” Pro-gun consumers note that Vista brands contribute millions of dollars to conservation each year through a federal excise tax.
Today’s announcement marks the first in what Metz said will be further sell-offs.
“We are now turning our efforts to the rest of our divestiture plan as previously communicated in May,” he said.