Camping World leans on Gander brand in RV push
Camping World Holdings is pairing its RV retail business with the Gander Outdoor brand, which Camping World acquired and renamed after the bankruptcy of Gander Mountain last year. The company said it plans to open 40 Gander RV Sales locations by spring 2019, including 35 across the Midwest and South it expects to open soon, according a company press release.
A number of stores featuring RV sales are old Gander Mountain locations in key RV markets where Camping World said it was underpenetrated but saw "tremendous opportunity" to grow its RV market share and expand its customer base. To back the launch of Gander RV Sales, the company said it has made "significant investments in technology and infrastructure" this year.
Since the beginning of 2018, Camping World has opened 50 outdoor gear stores rebranded as Gander Outdoors. The company plans to "aggressively pursue opportunistic acquisitions and new store development" to boost market share through a national expansion, CEO Marcus Lemonis said in a statement.
Camping World has been in acquisition mode of late, buying up retailers of assorted outdoor recreational gear in a quest to sell RVs to outdoor enthusiasts of as many age and income groups as possible.
Following its bankruptcy-auction purchase in May 2017 of Gander Mountain Company and Overton's, the company in April snapped up Nashville-based Cullum & Maxey Camping Center and also bought TheHouse.com (which sells outdoors equipment online), Uncle Dan's (an outdoor gear and apparel shop) and W82 (a specialty store featuring snowboards, longboards, skateboards and apparel). Still not sated, Camping World earlier this year announced the acquisition of regional Midwestern gear seller Erehwon Mountain Outfitter.
Those moves are part of what the company calls a "side-by-side strategy," developed in late 2016, to expand its customer base and increase its market share in a given region by operating an existing Camping World dealership with an acquired brand under its legacy name. Its Gander Outdoors stores, the rebranded locations from its Gander Mountain purchase, are perhaps the most ambitious manifestation of that approach.
Camping World has also been adding "new and innovative products for the younger outdoor and cost-conscious consumer" to help the company expand "the width and depth of our customer base for our RV-centric offerings and Good Sam products and services," the company said in a press release. Good Sam is the company's $27-per-year membership club, which includes discounts at the various banners and benefits like roadside assistance.
"We have always viewed Gander Outdoors as the most cost-effective method to increase our RV sales presence and grow our Good Sam Club, particularly in key RV markets where we are underpenetrated," Lemonis said in a statement. "It is not by coincidence that the Gander Outdoors locations selected are in key markets with a very strong RV registration base and areas that we have been targeting for growth."
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