Outdoor: Did you hear?...

Forzani Group buys a piece of Gen-X Sports, BCM and Backpacker team up for fund-raiser trip, Cabela's files IPO, Access Fund plans month-long Adopt-a-Crag project, plus much more...
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>> Two days after financially-challenged Huffy returned ownership of the closeout side of Gen-X Sports to the management team of Jamie Salter, Ken Finkelstein and Rick White, Canadian retailer The Forzani Group Ltd. acquired Gen-X Sports, "an opportunity-buy business specializing in the sourcing, purchase and subsequent re-sale of manufacturers' excess capacity product." Huffy retains control of all Gen-X trademarks and gets a much-needed cash boost. Forzani gets a closeout operation that the company hopes will offer increased sales opportunities for its retail brands, as well as the company's European partner, Intersport. Bob Sartor, Forzani's CEO, stated in a prepared release, "The acquisition of Gen-X Sports, and the retention of its talented management team, will provide FGL with an opportunity-buy arm, capable of delivering high quality, profitable close-out products to our corporate and franchise stores. This will enable the Company to continue to grow its margins in an increasingly competitive environment." Gen-X will operate as a separate business and it will continue to supply retailers in addition to Forzani's own retail brands with closeout goods. In related news, Forzani reported fiscal year 2004 net earnings of $28 million ($21 million USD) down 6.7 percent from reported net earnings of $30.0 million ($22.5 million USD) in fiscal 2003. Gross margins decreased 30 basis points to 34.4 percent. EBITDA margin was reported at 8.4 percent, a 50 basis point drop from 2003. On the bright side, sales for corporate and franchised stores increased to $1.108 billion ($832 million USD) a 5.1 percent increase compared to 2003 numbers of $1.053 billion ($790.4 million USD).

>> Big City Mountaineers (BCM) needs your support to help fund trips for at-risk teens this summer, and invites you to join Backpacker Magazine's Northwest Editor Michael Lanza and professional guides from Hood Mountain Adventures on a three-day mountaineering bid to Mount Shasta's mystical summit May 14-16. All proceeds from this event go to benefit BCM. In fact, the $2,000 trip cost for each of the five lucky adventurers will fully fund a one-week trip into the Yosemite backcountry this summer for five at-risk, urban teens -- that's five trips and 25 youth-in-need benefiting from one glorious climb. If you are not interested yourself, why not pass this news-brief onto a colleague or friend who you think might be. Even though we know this is not why you would make the trek, BCM's sponsors will provide each trip participant with over $1,700 of gear to keep, including a backpack, sleeping bag and pad, tent, insulated jacket, shell jacket and more. Go to www.bigcitymountaineers.org/shasta or email climbshasta@bigcitymountaineers.org for more information.

>> Cabela's has filed its intention to go public with an IPO offering underwritten by Credit Suisse First Boston, J.P. Morgan, Wachovia, Stephens Inc. and William Blair. The goal is to raise $230 million that the $1.4 billion retail giant will use to expand its existing store base, repay existing debt and for other company projects. SNEWS View: Now that the company is going public, we're getting a peek inside the machinations of the company. The company mails over 100 million catalogs a year and its website receives in excess of 46 million visits each year. The catalog and website business generated $144 million in 2003. Consider too that the company issues its own credit cards, with 523,000 active accounts generating $23.9 million in added revenue. On the brick-and-mortar front, the company reports that its megastores averaged $75.6 million in sales in 2003, with the its smaller destination stores bringing in an average of $43 million. Breaking down the sales by percentage into categories, we see that softgoods (clothing and footwear) represents 37 percent of all sales. Hunting equipment generates 29 percent of the sales, followed by fishing at 15 percent, camping equipment at 14 percent, and home furnishings and gifts garnering a respectable 5 percent.

>> GERMANY -- The OutDoor show's new project manager will be Stefan Reisinger. He will assume the post when Willi Schaugg steps out to take on a different job outside the organization. Reisinger will take over both OutDoor and Eurobike; until now he oversaw the Play & Leisure show there. SNEWS View: Hmm, we like the similarity between play, leisure, outdoor and biking. Now, if only we could get swings and slides at the OutDoor show...

>> Ortovox is now offering rescue beacons to the fire rescue market. According to Ortovox, "with minimal training, Ortovox's rescue beacons can quickly become a critical part of a rescue when things take a turn for the worse by helping to locate a missing team member within a structure. Rapid Intervention Teams use beacons in search mode to pinpoint the firefighter transmitting a signal within the building, using distance and direction readings. Ortovox beacons allow search teams to quickly find the distance and direction of a victim within a structure when minutes determine life or death. A firefighter or emergency worker can be located through a combined analog and digital signal transmitted from the beacon, in conjunction with personal alarm safety systems. In testing situations, Ortovox beacons found victims through reinforced concrete, smoke and heat." Ortovox will be introducing its technology to the firefighting community at the Fire Department Instructor's Conference in late April.

>> The Access Fund would like us to remind all of our readers that it is time again to start thinking about an Adopt-a-Crag stewardship project for your favorite climbing area. This year, The Access Fund has expanded Adopt-a-Crag to encompass the entire month of September to encourage organizers to schedule their Adopt-a-Crag event on a day that works best for their community. Adopt-a-Crag is a national commitment by the climbing community dedicated to natural resource stewardship and volunteerism, and would not be possible without the generous support of its sponsors. Title Sponsor Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), Presenting Sponsor W.L. Gore, and Supporting Sponsor Clif Bar provided key financial backing, allowing the Access Fund to provide each Adopt-a-Crag event with volunteer incentives and clean-up materials. For more information, contact Deanne Buck at Deanne@accessfund.org.

>> A group out of England wants to stomp out clichés, especially rampant in business use. The Plain English Campaign says "at the end of the day" is the most irritating one in the English language today. This abused and overused phrase "won" first place in a poll of most annoying clichés, according to this group. Second place went to "at this moment in time," and third place was given to "like," used as if it were a form of punctuation. "With all due respect" came in fourth. "When readers or listeners come across these tired expressions, they start tuning out and completely miss the message -- assuming there is one," said John Lister, spokesman for Plain English Campaign, which was founded in 1979 (www.plainenglish.co.uk). "Using these terms in daily business is about as professional as wearing a novelty tie or having a wacky ring-tone on your phone." Take a look at these other terms that received multiple nominations to see if you sprinkle your talk with them: 24/7, absolutely, address the issue, around (in place of about), awesome, ballpark figure, basically, basis ("on a weekly basis" in place of "weekly" and so on), bear with me, between a rock and a hard place, bottom line, crack troops, glass half full (or half empty), I hear what you're saying, in terms of, it's not rocket science, literally, move the goal-posts, ongoing, prioritize, pushing the envelope, singing from the same hymn sheet, the fact of the matter is, thinking outside the box, to be honest/to be honest with you/to be perfectly honest and touch base. SNEWS View: Absolutely, at the end of the day, we find ourselves like caught between a rock and a hard place at this moment in time, which like despite being an awesome experience 24/7 is basically like not rocket science, but literally can move the goal-posts on an ongoing basis so we can continue to push the envelope -- something we do with all due respect, to be perfectly honest. Like we hear you. (!)

>> According to "The U.S. Market for Sports Nutritional Products," a new study by market research publisher Packaged Facts, in the overall retail market for sports nutritional products, valued at $3.1 billion in 2003, beverages accounted for 63 percent of sales. The study finds that these drinks are being marketed more heavily for their "nutritional" rather than "sports" benefits, as most consumers are looking for a quick, fortified pick me up during their hectic daily routines, rather than after a "hard-core" workout. Packaged Facts data indicates that physically active adults are only 10 percent more likely to use sports beverages than is the general adult population. For more information, go to www.marketresearch.com, but to see the entire study, you'll have to pony up $3,000.

>> The North Face has recently launched its updated website at www.thenorthface.com. New to the site are an RD&D section which is designed to share innovations and technologies used in TNF product to consumers; My Gear List which allows site visitors to develop and keep a gear list for an upcoming trip; and a feature that provides direct integration with TNF's online retail partners and the products in the Gear List, showing only those retailers who are in stock with a current product selection.

>> Ric Hatch, director of wholesale for Patagonia, has turned in his walking papers after 25 years with the company. The SNEWS® team's own Michael Hodgson remembers Hatch as his store's Patagonia rep back in the mid-80s when he worked for Adventure 16 in the company's West LA store. Photos from the early days of Chouinard Equipment (before the threat of litigation and liability in the climbing market inspired the company to separate Patagonia from Chouinard Equipment -- resulting in what we now know as Black Diamond) reveal the smiling face of the ageless Hatch. No word on what Hatch will be doing, other than first enjoying a bit of well-deserved free time around his home in Colorado with his wife.

>> Superfeet has entered into a partnership with John "The Penguin" Bingham. Bingham credits Superfeet footbeds for providing the necessary foot support and comfort to begin and maintain his consistency as a runner. Bingham pens the popular column "The Chronicles" in Runner's World Magazine, and he is the founder and chairman of John Bingham Racing and brings his unique passion for running and walking to his own races, the Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon and the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus, Ohio. Bingham has published several motivational books about running including "The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life," "Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running" and "Marathoning for Mortals: A Regular Person's Guide to the Joy of Running or Walking a Full or Half Marathon."

>> BOB Trailers Inc. will begin shipping its bicycle cargo trailer and Sport Utility Stroller products from a new Kamloops, British Columbia, warehouse starting April 10. Utilizing the services of a third-party warehouse, NRI Distribution, BOB will now be able to service Canadian dealers with quicker delivery times, freight savings and, of course, no brokerage or duty fees. Canadian dealers will still need to call the BOB Trailers customer sales and service desk in San Luis Obispo, Calif., to place their orders -- 800-893-2447 or 805-541-2554. A BOB 2004 Canadian dealer program is now available.

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