What Dick’s Can Do With Moosejaw That Walmart Didn’t

Dick’s Sporting Goods acquires Moosejaw from WalmartWMT. The sporting goods giant struck the deal to further its ambitions in the multi-billion dollar outdoor retail market.

The move was welcomed by many industry experts at the Retail Wire BrainTrust in an online discussion last week.

“The Moosejaw deal is a perfect fit for Dick’s and will allow the brand to scale quickly,” wrote Liza Amlani, Director of Retail Strategy Group. “From leveraging insights to infrastructure, both brands will be able to get closer to their outdoor customers and drive smarter merchandising decisions across all regions. It’s the perfect combination.”

“Walmart has pretty quietly divested itself of several acquisitions from the (Marc) Lore era,” wrote Spieckerman Retail’s Carol Speickerman. “Moosejaw is a great acquisition for Dick’s as it is both a brand and a portfolio of brands. Dick’s stores are flagship locations for many brands and Moosejaw has built its online following. Dick’s won’t run out of options for growing Moosejaw and it’s a perfect fit.”

Dollar sales in the U.S. outdoor specialty market for the year ended November 2022 increased 7 percent to $7.9 billion, according to The NPD Group. The winter specialty market contributed $1.7 billion in sales from August through November.

Moosejaw was founded in 1992 and acquired by Walmart in 2017. It operates an e-commerce website and 13 stores in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan and Missouri.

The chain will join Public Lands, launched in 2021, as part of Dick’s outdoor retail portfolio. Eoin Comerford, CEO of Moosejaw, will report to Todd Spaletto, President, Public Lands and Senior Vice President, Dick’s Sporting Goods upon closing of the transaction.

“Moosejaw is a logical brand extension for Dick’s Sporting Goods as it expands into outdoor adventure gear and apparel,” wrote David Naumann, marketing strategy lead, retail, travel and distribution at Verizon. “It fits much better with Dick’s and Public Lands than with Walmart. It seems like a wise purchase for Dick’s.”

“We admire what Moosejaw has accomplished over the past 30 years as a leader in the outdoor industry and look forward to the opportunity to share insights and learn from one another,” said Mr. Spaletto in a press release announcing the transaction . “We believe there is potential to grow the Moosejaw business and provide its millions of loyal customers with compelling experiences and an expanded range of products.”

“Like Moosejaw, Dick’s sees a great opportunity to bring more people into the great outdoors,” Mr Comerford said in a statement CNBC. “Together we will serve outdoor enthusiasts from novice to expert across multiple channels and locations.”

Public Lands sells online and operates seven stores in Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Dick’s and Walmart expect to close the deal for Moosejaw next month.

Some Retail Wire BrainTrust members saw the brand ecosystem already in place at Dick’s as a better choice for the brand.

“Moosejaw seemed like an awkward bolt-on at Walmart,” wrote Jeff Sward, founding partner of Merchandising Metrics. “But it seems to fit Dick’s and Public Lands perfectly. So much so that it makes you wonder if Dick’s really needs both new brands, or if there’s a chance they’ll merge into one brand one day. Who wins?”

“I would expect the Moosejaw brand to be acquired by Public Lands,” wrote Ken Morris, Managing Partner at Cambridge Retail Advisors. “The Moosejaw website just looks like a generic discount store specializing in jackets and outdoor gear. Public Lands is trying a lot better to look like LLBean and together with Moosejaw this will bring the number of locations to twenty.”

However, one BrainTrust member warned Dick’s not to go down this route with his new acquisition.

“As an outdoor enthusiast, I hope Dick’s manages to keep Moosejaw its specialty – a rebellious orientation with a wide range of quality outdoor gear at various price points,” wrote John Lietsch, Chief Operating Officer and Bloo Kanoo. “I haven’t been to a Dick’s sporting goods store in years, and if Dick’s changes Moosejaw to ‘Dick’s,’ I think it will lose some of its appeal. Additionally, Dick’s is entering a competitive market with companies like REI and Backcountry that have a cult-like following and faces the ever-evolving threat of direct selling. It fits a lot better than Walmart, but it’s easy to fiddle with.”

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