New owner for Backwoods

New owner for Backwoods
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A newly formed company, Backwoods 2.0 LLC, takes over the struggling retail chain. Jennifer Mull will remain on as a consultant.

Backwoods sold

Photo: Courtesy

Yesterday Jennifer Mull signed a deal to sell Backwoods, the company that was founded by her father in 1973. Mull has been at the helm of Backwoods Retail, which operates stores in south central U.S., and Backwoods Adventures, which runs trekking, hiking, multi-sport and fly-fishing adventures around the world, since 2003.

The sale comes on the heels of a rough run for Backwoods. In October 2016, the company faced an eviction notice for its most iconic store, Boulder, Co.-based Neptune Mountaineering, which Backwoods purchased in 2013. Shelley and Andrew Dunbar, owners of the North American arm of Sea to Summit, recently purchased Neptune from Backwoods and are in the beginning stages of bringing that shop back to its former glory.

Yesterday’s sale includes the remaining five stores (Wichita, Omaha, Fort Worth, Oklahoma City and Tulsa) and the travel business.

New president, Kevin McConnell, is also the Chief Marketing Officer for Gunn&Hook, an online booking platform for hunters and fishermen. He began talking with Mull last fall and created Backwoods 2.0 LLC, which ultimately won the bidding process (from Alabama Outdoors) for ownership of the retail chain.

“We’re very happy to have been the successful bidder for Backwoods Retail, Inc. and Backwoods Adventures," said McConnell in a statement. "We believe in the company, are proud of its history and look forward to executing a new omni-channel vision for the company that is critical to thrive in today's challenging retail market. The headquarters will remain in Austin, Texas and all employees will be retained at HQ and in the remaining locations.”

Mull will remain with the company as a consultant for at least one year. “It’s bittersweet that the company is leaving my family,” says Mull. “But I’m very happy and relieved that the company will continue forward and evolve.” Mull filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November and acknowledged that it’s been a tough year. She says that the store locations have struggled with inventory issues recently but remains optimistic that McConnell’s group will be able to bring in new stock to make offerings more robust. “Kevin and his investors will inject their knowledge, excitement and expertise into the company and I look forward to watching the evolution. I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure at Backwoods, am honored to have worked alongside the staff, and am very fortunate to have been involved with the outdoor industry community for the past 15 years.

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