Under ownership of Camping World, Gander Mountain has begun opening stores under the title "Gander Outdoors," including one that opened on Wednesday in Lakeville, MN, which had previously been a Gander Mountain location, according to a report from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
The company plans to open 55 to 65 Gander Outdoors stores in the next year, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis told analysts last month, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. On Oct. 6 the company assumed 15 Gander Mountain leases through rights gained through the bankruptcy acquisition and the company will also enter into new leases for other locations, Lemonis said.
Camping World Holdings, an Illinois-based network of RV-centric retail locations, in April won the bankruptcy auction of Gander Mountain Company and Overton's. The agreement obligated Camping World to assume a minimum of 17 leases, and Lemonis said then that at least half of Gander's 160 stores likely wouldn't survive.
Gander Mountain is back, but under new owner Camping World, the company has become more streamlined, with fewer and smaller stores. The plan is to open an initial 15 to 20 Gander Mountain stores, which will be rebranded as "Gander Outdoors" by the end of the first quarter 2018, and an additional 40 stores during the second and third quarters of 2018, Lemonis told analysts last month.
"The company will not sign up for any leases that we believe don't give us more than the clear path to profitability," he also said, reiterating a position he had taken just after the acquisition. "Profitability, quite frankly, on a four wall basis that's consistent with our [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] margin expectation, like we currently operate at."
The company in November raised its 2017 revenue guidance to $4.2 billion and its adjusted EBITDA outlook to approximately $384 million, excluding any Gander Mountain acquisition and pre-opening expenses.
Along with fewer stores, Camping World is shrinking the locations' footprint in many cases, or opening stores with already smaller capacity — 30,000-, 40,000- or 50,000-square feet, as opposed to 60,000-, 70,000- or 80,000-square feet, Lemonis said. "We believe that we're going to be able to generate solid sales, but more importantly, solid profitability out of those," he told analysts.
In June, after evaluating its new purchase, Camping World said it would re-open fewer stores than it first anticipated under new Gander Outdoors and Overton's banners, with a fresh offering of Gander Outdoors, Overton's and Camping World products and services.
From the get-go, Lemonis made it clear that only stores with good prospects would survive. "It's up to the local staff, the manager to run that store profitably," he said in May via Periscope, correcting reports that all Gander Mountain stores would shutter. "I will not be picking stores that do not have a clear path to profitability — I will not do that under any circumstance."
The 57 newly opening stores include one each in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee; two in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia; four in North Carolina and Pennsylvania; five in Minnesota, New York and Texas; and eight each in Michigan and Wisconsin.
"In addition to the locations identified above, we are currently pursuing other locations for expansion and expect to announce additional locations and markets in the near term with all of our Gander Outdoors, Overton's and Camping World offerings," Lemonis said in a statement.