>> Johnson Outdoors Inc. (Nasdaq: JOUT) has received a nonbinding proposal to acquire outstanding shares of the company for a cash price of $18 per share. The proposal from Samuel C. Johnson (majority shareholder and director of Johnson Outdoors) and Helen Johnson-Leipold (chairman and chief Executive officer, Johnson Outdoors) pertains to all shares of the company not already owned by them or any member of their family or entities controlled by them. According to the proposal, the intent is to return full ownership in Johnson Outdoors to the Johnson family, and for all other holders of outstanding common stock to receive cash for their shares, through a negotiated merger transaction. The proposal also states that neither Johnson-Leipold nor Johnson have any interest in selling their shares and will not support an alternative transaction. In response to the proposal, the board of directors of Johnson Outdoors Inc. has appointed a special committee of independent directors to evaluate the proposal on behalf of the company. The annual meeting of Johnson Outdoors’ shareholders is scheduled to be held on Feb. 25. The company will convene the meeting, but intends to adjourn without conducting any business, on a date to be announced soon. The company will mail supplementary proxy materials to shareholders next week.
>> Lowe Alpine is relocating the company’s international operations from the United Kingdom to a newly constructed facility near the Asolo Group headquarters in Nervesa della Battaglia, Italy. As of July 1, 2004, the Kendal facility in the UK will become a subsidiary of Lowe Alpine, serving only the UK and Irish markets with sales, marketing and warehousing support. Though it is not known how many UK-based Lowe Alpine employees will be laid off as a result of the move, insiders have placed the estimate at near 50. The move will have no affect on Lowe Alpine’s operations in the U.S. SNEWS View: This is a move that does not surprise us one bit. Ever since Asolo acquired Lowe, we’ve pondered the future of UK operations. While there are some who wonder if this will mean Lowe might now become more of a lifestyle brand than an authentic outdoor one, most folks we’ve spoken with — and we here at SNEWS believe — this is a good move. The Asolo operation is a very slick and well-oiled one. By moving Lowe’s design, production, and management operations near Asolo, we suspect the Zanattas feel, and we would not argue, that they will be able to more efficiently and effectively run the company. Would we expect to see more and more style built into the function of the brand as a result? Perhaps, and what is wrong with that? Asolo is a very technical footwear brand, but style and color is what has brought it increased sales success.
>> If you haven’t already, it is time to mark your calendars for Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 and make plans to attend the Outdoor Industry Rendezvous at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek located in Beaver Creek Resort, Colo. The SNEWS® team makes it a point to attend each Rendezvous enforce, simply because there is no better way to recharge your brain and boost your spirits than at the Rendezvous. We assure you that attending will change the way you look at your business and give you the tools you need to increase your company’s bottom line. To reserve your room, call the Park Hyatt Beaver at 800-554-9288 and mention the Outdoor Industry Rendezvous to obtain the special group pricing of $124 per night, the same 2003 lodging rate. For more information, please email email@example.com.
>> K2 Inc. (NYSE: KTO) reported record sales for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2003, which increased 51.8 percent to $193.8 million from $127.7 million in the 2002 fourth quarter. Diluted earnings per share in the fourth quarter increased 133 percent to $0.07, including $0.01 relating to a gain on the sale of its light pole division, as compared to $0.03 in the year-earlier period, and $0.02 higher than guidance estimates of $0.05 previously provided by K2. 2003 fiscal year sales were up 23.4 percent to $718.5 million from $582.2 million in 2002. In an overview of the K2 Sports division, which includes skis, snowboards, in-line skates, snowshoes and bikes, it was reported that it generated sales of $72.2 million in the fourth quarter, up 24.7 percent from the 2002 fourth quarter. Sales for the 12-month period were $241.7 million, up 10.9 percent from the previous year. 2003 sales increases in this group were driven by significant growth in both skis and snowboards, growth in in-line skates despite the softness in that category, and the inclusion of sales of Winter Quest (Atlas, Tubbs and Little Bear), which was acquired in October 2003. Margins have improved due to increased manufacturing efficiencies and fewer closeout sales, according to K2. For more information about this company or its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.
>> The revolving door continues to spin at Climbing magazine headquarters with John Viehman now out as publisher, slightly less than nine months after his May 23 hiring last year. Glen Bernard, publisher of Canoe & Kayak, will assume a new role as interim group publisher over both Canoe & Kayak and Climbing. Don Meek, head of Primedia’s Action Sports Group (ASG) which publishes Canoe & Kayak, Powder, Climbing, Bike as well as other surf and skate related titles, told SNEWS®, “I am new and had to take a look around the organization and see what I thought we needed to do with each title and what opportunities there were. The changes are more about Glen than anything else as he has what we needed to get the job done. I take full responsibility for the realignment.” Viehman has, in corporate parlance, “left to pursue other opportunities.” Viehman declined comment for this news brief. Meek also announced to us that he is reorganizing ASG into two distinct publishing groups — Primedia Action Sports Group Adventure Network (Canoe & Kayak, Climbing, Bike and Powder) and Primedia Action Sports Group Action Network (Surfer, Surfing, Snowboarder, Skateboarder, SG and Axis) — to take advantage of opportunities to cross-sell and bundle advertising and leverage combined subscriber numbers to better compete for non-endemic advertising. SNEWS® asked Meek if he knew that Adventure Network® was a registered trademark — one that is licensed to GearTrends®? He said he did not and that he would change the name. SNEWS View: You could see this coming from miles away. Bob Mignogna, a longtime Primedia exec who hired Viehman, “left to pursue other opportunities” in October of last year when the company realigned itself and placed Meek in charge. Meek appears to be a very skilled sales and marketing man with imagination and vision, and those traits were certainly highlighted in the release announcing his hire in Octotober. He doesn’t appear to have any publishing experience, however, which could be viewed as good or bad depending on your perspective. Primedia, which is clearly on-the-record as seeking to re-energize sales, obviously thinks sales leadership is of greater importance. Now that Meek is at the helm and has made his intentions clear, the pressure is on for him to deliver quickly and that places an additional burden squarely on Bernard’s shoulders now too. He’s succeeded at Canoe, but can he succeed at Climbing if he now has to split his focus? Climbing has a talented a staff, a superb editor in charge and a strong brand name, but in this ever competitive climate, that may not be enough to grab sufficient ad dollars to make Primedia folk smile.
>> LaCrosse Footwear Inc. (Nasdaq: BOOT) reported results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2003. Consolidated net sales increased 5.8 percent to $27.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2003, from 2002’s $25.8 million. However, net sales for fiscal 2003 were down 2 percent — $95.7 million in 2003 compared to $97.8 million in 2002. Consolidated net income increased to $1.1 million, or $0.19 per share, compared to consolidated net income of $0.8 million, or $0.14 per share, in the fourth quarter of the prior year, an increase of 35.3 percent. Gross margins improved to 31.1 percent, as compared to 28.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002, an improvement of 290 basis points. Notes payable and long-term debt declined to $7.5 million from $12.8 million from a year ago, a decrease of 41.2 percent. For more information about this company or its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.
>> Adventure 16 has awarded Royal Robbins the Southern California retailer’s “2003 Vendor of the Year” and Joey Benaron its “2003 Rep of the Year.” Adventure 16 judges its yearly recipients on a dozen criteria ranging from their dedication to specialty retail, to providing exemplary salesperson education, to giving back to the community and promoting causes which protect the natural environment and promote responsible outdoor education.
>> Katadyn recently purchased “Trekking-Mahlzeiten,” a leading manufacturer of freeze-dried food in Germany to strengthen the company’s German market position. Since the market for water purification and treatment systems is quite small in Europe, Katadyn’s subsidiaries in Germany and France support their organizations by also selling technical outdoor accessories. In Germany, the combination of specialty outdoor freeze-dried foods, Katadyn water filters, Micropur water disinfection products and Certisil camping water preservatives supports Katadyn’s leadership position. There is no plan for Katadyn North America to sell freeze-dried foods in the United States. In related Katadyn news, SNEWS has learned that The Katadyn Camp and Exstream purifiers as well as Micropur tablets are scheduled to be featured on The Today Show on Mar. 12.
>> GSI Commerce (NASDAQ: GSIC) announced results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Jan. 3, 2004. Net revenues were $95.2 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003, a 26 percent increase compared to net revenues of $75.3 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002. Net merchandise sales, a non-GAAP financial measure, were $120.3 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003, a 46 percent increase compared to net merchandise sales of $82.2 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002. Net merchandise sales from the sporting goods category increased 54 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003 to $52.1 million compared to $33.9 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002. Net merchandise sales from other categories increased 75 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003 to $68.1 million from $39.0 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002. Net revenues were $241.9 million for fiscal 2003, a 40 percent increase compared to net revenues of $172.6 million for fiscal 2002. Net merchandise sales were $282.0 million for fiscal 2003, a 58 percent increase compared to net merchandise sales of $178.3 million for fiscal 2002.GSI also announced it has been selected as the e-commerce provider for three companies, including The Timberland Company. For fiscal 2004, the company said net revenues are expected to be in the range of $290 million to $305 million. For more information about this company or its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.
>> Trail Runner Magazine is launching the 2004 Trophy Series, what the magazine is billing as, “the largest North American coast-to-coast trail-race series, incorporating over 180 events from March 1 to September 30.” Qualifying races range in scope from local three-milers to the famous Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Age-group winners for both Marathon and shorter and Ultra categories will be awarded prize packages when the series is complete. All entrants to the series will be eligible to receive raffle prizes. Trail Runner is planning on the series attracting as many as 40,000 participants. Trophy Series sponsors include: Vasque, Buff, Kathoola, ProTech, DeFeet, Big Agnes, Road ID, La Sportiva, Insport, Petzl, Gregory, Honey Stinger, Kavu, Fuel Belt, injinji, FiveTen, Camelbak and Outdoor Research. For more information, go to www.trailrunnermag.com.
>> When the Sportsman’s Guide (NASDAQ: SGDE) reported its quarter and year-end results for 2003, it announced that it ended the year with its strongest balance sheet ever, with $32.1 million of cash, no outstanding bank advances and inventory of $18.9 million, just over 8 percent lower than 2002 levels. Sales for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2003, were $71.7 million, an increase over the $66.3 million reported for the same period in 2002. The company reported net earnings of $3.8 million, or $0.71 per fully diluted share for the quarter, compared to $2.6 million, or $0.53 per share, reported for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2002. For the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2003, sales were $194.7 million, an increase over the $179.3 million reported for 2002. The Sportsman’s Guide recorded net earnings of $6.2 million, or $1.16 per fully diluted share, for the year, compared to net earnings of $4.0 million, or $0.80 per share, for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2002. “Our 2003 results showed sales up 8.6 percent and net earnings up 53.3 percent,” Gregory Binkley, president and CEO of the company, said in a statement. “These increases were due to the continuing benefit of an effective and profitable mail plan and stronger Internet-related sales activity, approximating 36 percent of total catalog and Internet sales for 2003, compared to 30 percent last year.” For more information about this company or its financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS® Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.
>> Werner Paddles has hired Danny Mongno and his team to serve as technical representatives for the company in the Northeast and Southeast. Mongno will be assisted by his associates Ferd Powell and Craig Charvat in the Northeast, and Lauren Sanzone in the Southeast. As technical representatives, they will support Werner Paddles sales and service representatives Ryan Hanegan in the Northeast and Kevin Bengston in the Southeast with additional clinics and demos. Hanegan and Bengston remain the primary contact for dealers and can be reached at 800-275-3311. Mongno and his group may be reached at 828-713-3301.
>> Kelty has added Jed Clark to its West Coast rep force. Clark will operate as part of the rep team at Workreation Inc., formerly known as the Gage-Donoho Group, and support the northern portion of both California and Nevada. Clark is a principal owner of Jed Clark Sales and a former national sales manager for Timbuk2 and Bellwether. In California, Clark’s territory will cover from Monterey, Fresno and Mammoth north to the Oregon border. In Nevada, Clark will cover the area north of Las Vegas.
>> EN-R-G Foods Inc. (of Stinger Gel fame) has hired the Flamand Sports Group to cover Honey Stinger outdoor accounts in Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. The group — composed of Phil and Lisa Flamand, Billy Turner and Jason Zombron — currently represents Kelty, Adventure Medical Kits, Terramar, Crazy Creek, Thule and Native Eyewear.
>> Arc’teryx Equipment Inc. has added Susanna Bergstrom to its snowsports design team. Bergstrom, better known as “Sanna,” is a recent graduate of the University of Derby in the United Kingdom, where she earned her master’s degree in performance sportswear design. For several years before her studies, Sanna owned and ran a small specialty outdoor retail store with a licensed Gore-Tex Service Center in Malmo, Sweden. Through the Service Center she also worked on design development for the outdoor company Tierra. Sanna will now collaborate with chief snowsports designer, Tom Routh, on all upcoming snowsports apparel and pack projects.
>> Outside has named public relations veteran Josephine Parr as its communications director. Parr will join the magazine’s New York-based staff and will report to Chicago-based director of marketing, Matt McKee.
>> Five Ten recently emailed SNEWS to let us know that Doug Reed is expanding his territory to include South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Reed currently reps Five Ten in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. His client list includes Misty Mountain and Sterling Ropes, in addition to Five Ten. According to Charles Cole, Five Ten founder and president, since joining Five Ten in 1998, Reed has helped the company gain strong growth in his current territory.
>> After eight years of working with or heading up sales at GU Sports, Linda Buchanan has decided it’s time to move on. “It has been fun to watch our little product become a staple of the athletic market,” she said in a brief email to colleagues. Christian Johnson will take over Buchanan’s duties. You can reach him CJohnson@gusports.com. Buchanan can be reached at LindaB322@hotmail.com.