On Monday, outdoor and firearm conglomerate Vista Outdoor announced it would sell two of its firearms brands, Savage Arms and Stevens Firearms.
Vista Outdoors is a massive corporation. It owns dozens of brands, including Bell Helmets, Bushnell, Camp Chef, and CamelBak. But it has been in a tough spot since protesters targeted the brand for its ownership of firearms manufacturers.
Consumers launched a petition for REI to stop carrying Vista Outdoor products in 2018. The campaign netted more than 15,000 signatures. Later in 2018, REI and Canadian retailer MEC cut ties with Vista, citing the brand’s ownership of brands that manufacture firearms.
Since then, the brand has restructured and sold off some of its assets. It recently sold off Bollé and eyewear brands Cébé and Serengeti. And yesterday, it announced its largest divestiture to date, the sale of iconic firearms manufacturers Savage Arms and Stevens Firearms.
According to a press release, Vista Outdoor Inc. (“Vista Outdoor”) (NYSE: VSTO) sold the legal entity operating Savage Arms and Stevens Firearms for $170 million.
Vista Outdoor Sale: REI Reacts
Within hours of the announcement, REI reacted, stating it will resume doing business with Vista Outdoor. See the full REI statement below:
Today, we notified our merchants that we will resume orders with Giro, Bell, CamelBak, Blackburn and Camp Chef on the news that their parent company, Vista Outdoor, has secured a buyer for Savage Arms.
REI orders of Vista-owned brands have been on hold since March 2018. At that time, Vista Outdoor chose not to engage in the national conversation about common-sense gun safety solutions that followed the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
REI does not sell guns or ammunition, and does not oppose hunting or the Second Amendment, but we believe companies that profit directly from the sale of guns have a civic responsibility to engage in the national discussion about gun safety, as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and others have done.
We understand and respect that our members and employees enjoy life outside in many ways — including hunting.
Vista Outdoor said the sale was part of a “previously announced transformation plan.” The sale should buoy the recreational equipment brands sold by REI. MEC has not yet issued a comment as to whether it will resume sale of Vista Outdoor products.
Vista Maintains Federal, CCI Ammunition
According to Vista Outdoor, the company will now focus “on ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories, hydration bottles and packs, outdoor cooking products, and cycling/ski helmets and accessories.”
“Divesting our Savage brand was a key aspect of our transformation plan,” said Chris Metz, CEO of Vista Outdoor. “While it was a difficult decision to sell such an iconic brand, I remain confident that this was the correct choice to help Vista Outdoor grow in those categories where we can have leadership positions. Savage is a fantastic business, and it deserves to continue to evolve into other firearms categories. At this time, however, we simply do not have the resources to transform Savage into the full-service firearms company that it deserves to be and, therefore, we determined the brand would be better off with a different owner. We’re excited to see Savage reach its full potential under new ownership.”
Vista Outdoor’s predecessor, ATK, acquired Savage in 2013. ATK’s sporting business — which included Savage, Bushnell, Federal and CCI Ammunition, and dozens of other hunt/shoot accessories brands — spun off in 2015 to become Vista Outdoor.
At closing, Vista Outdoor received gross proceeds from the divestiture of $158 million. Vista Outdoor said it will use the net after-tax proceeds of the sale to repay outstanding debts.