Outdoor financials: Finish Line and New Balance retail sales rise; plus Collective Brands, Jarden, Garmin and Forzani

Retail sales at the The Finish Line and New Balance are rising. Saucony and Marmot parent firms get new CEOs. Plus financial dealings from Garmin and Forzani.
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The Finish Line (Nasdaq: FINL) reported higher revenue and profit for its fiscal 2012 first quarter.

The Indianapolis-based athletic footwear, apparel and accessories retailer said its net sales rose 6 percent to $229.5 million for the 13-week period, ended May 28, 2011, compared to the same period a year ago.

Comparable store sales rose for the seventh straight quarter – up 6.5 percent this quarter from a year ago.

Finish Line reported fiscal first quarter income of $16.4 million, or $0.30 per diluted share, compared to a quarterly income of $13.7 million, or $0.25 per diluted share a year ago.

The company has 656 stores in malls across the United States.

New Balance store sales up

New Balance officials said the company’s U.S. licensed retail stores saw their fourth straight month of year-over-year comparative sales growth, albeit the growth is slowing.

The Boston-based footwear and apparel brand reported some limited financial results in mid June, saying its stores saw comparative sales increase 9.3 percent in February, 9 percent in March, 6 percent in April and 1 percent in May.

Total sales in New Balance’s 153 U.S. stores, including seven new stores opened so far in 2011, have increased for nine straight months, company officials said.

No dollar figures were given with the percent increases – New Balance is privately held – but for perspective the company said it reported worldwide annual sales of $1.79 billion from its stores and products in 2010.

New Balance officials attributed the growth to its new store branding campaign and strong sales of new products, including the New Balance 890 running shoe and the company’s Minimus footwear collection.

“Not only are we seeing new customers in our stores as a result of these exciting product launches, but we are adding incremental sales,” Stephanie Smith, vice president of retail for New Balance, said in a statement.

The company plans to add another five stores by the end of the year.

CEO shuffle

Two diversified public companies with outdoor brands in their portfolios have made changes at the top.

Collective Brands (NYSE: PSS), parent company to Saucony, but better known as the parent to Payless ShoeSource, announced June 15 the resignation of its Chairman and CEO Matthew Rubel.

Michael Massey, a senior vice president with the company, was named interim CEO and D. Scott Olivet, a board member since 2006, was named non-executive chairman.

Rubel departs on the heels of the company reporting lower sales and profit for its fiscal first quarter 2011, despite stronger figures form its Performance and Lifestyle Group, including Saucony.

Both Massey and Olivet said that moving forward the company would focus on maintaining growth in that sector of the business through increased distribution.

Jarden Corp. (NYSE: JAH), parent to outdoor brands Marmot, K2, Vans and Coleman also made changes at the CEO post in mid June, although in this case the changes were known to be coming.

Jarden promoted James Lillie to CEO, replacing Martin Franklin, who will remain the company’s chairman. Lillie previously served as Jarden’s president and chief operating office.

Jarden reported higher sales and swung to a profit for the first quarter 2011.

Garmin to acquire Navigon

Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN) officials said they had reached an agreement to purchase Navigon AG, a privately-held German navigation provider.

Financial terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Navigon focuses on the automotive arena of GPS navigation, but Garmin officials noted they would also gain the company’s “top-selling navigation applications for the iPhone and Android platforms.”

Canadian Tire extends time for Forzani purchase

Canadian Tire Corp, which announced in May plans to buy The Forzani Group, said it has extended its buyout offer period to Aug. 18 to give more time for regulatory approval.

All other terms of the nearly $800-millon-deal to buy Forzani, which owns Canada’s largest chain of sporting goods stores, will remain the same, officials said.

--Compiled by David Clucas

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