Rumors swirl that Johnson Outdoors is selling Lendal Paddles

Johnson Outdoors is rumored to be selling Lendal Paddles. According to insiders as well as recent information published in paddling blogs, this is one rumor that could prove to be true. Which company might be the one acquiring? SNEWS has more.
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Johnson Outdoors is rumored to be selling Lendal Paddles. According to insiders as well as recent information published in paddling blogs, this is one rumor that could prove to be true. And, according to one blogger, Lendal might be returning to the United Kingdom, and to one Nigel Dennis, owner of Sea Kayaking UK.

Like so many other rumors we hear, this one was also floating around the aisles of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in July. In mid-October, insiders in the paddlesports market tipped off SNEWS® to the possible sale and the blogosphere heated up around the same time.


On Oct. 21, paddling instructor David H. Johnston of Paddle Canada posted on paddlinginstructor.com, “Though no ‘official’ statement has come out from Johnson yet, a source said that they are, ‘re-evaluating how to move forward with the Lendal brand.’ Johnston added: “Johnson has stopped manufacturing new products and supplies are dwindling in stores. In fact, if you are looking for a deal, Mountain Equipment Co-op up here in Canada has discounted the entire line and currently clearing it out.” (Click here to read his post).

Shortly after that, on Oct. 29, manufacturer Joe O’Blenis wrote the following on his blog:

“Well for quite some time now there have been rumours going around (about) Lendal Paddles… The latest rumour was that the two front runners for buying out troubled Lendal from Johnson Outdoors were Epic in the USA and none other than Nigel Dennis of seakayakinguk! So I fired off an email to Nigel this morning and sure enough. It ain't Epic that is getting Lendal. Looks like Nigel is going to do it!” (Click here to read the full post)

Then, on Oct. 30, a post on Gokayaknow.com stated, “Lendal has been pulled from the 2010 Johnson Outdoors catalog.” (Click here to read the statement). 

Nigel Dennis also did not respond to an email query from SNEWS for this story.

Johnson Outdoors would not confirm or deny information about a possible sale or the future of Lendal paddles when asked by SNEWS.

“We have a very active portfolio management process of evaluating and reviewing brands against our overall strategic plan,” Sara Knies, director of marketing and senior brand manager for Johnson Outdoors, told SNEWS. “As you probably know, because we are a publicly traded company we can't discuss future plans of acquisitions or divestitures within our portfolio.”

However, in a Nov. 10 press release announcing the completion of a consolidation of U.S. operations for the entire watercraft division to its Maine facility, mention of Lendal paddles was conspicuously absent. Click here to read the release.

“As a result of the consolidation, the Company's Ocean Kayak and Necky kayaks brands are now being produced in Old Town, benefiting from the craftsmanship there while retaining the unique individual signatures of design, styling and performance that have made both brands leaders in their paddling segments. The newly converted facility also serves as the U.S. warehouse and distribution center for all the Company's paddle boat and accessory brands, which include Extrasport personal flotation devices and Carlisle paddles, and is the hub for all related Watercraft support services and functions.”

Lendal is still mentioned in the boilerplate text of brands owned by Johnson at the end of the release. And the brand is still prominently mentioned when visiting the Johnson Outdoors website (www.johnsonoutdoors.com/paddling).

Johnson Outdoors acquired Lendal Paddles from Lendal founders and owners Alistair and Marianne Wilson in October 2006. Click here to read that release. The Wilsons, who were Olympic paddling champions, founded Lendal in 1964 in Scotland.

--Marcus Woolf

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