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Continued: Gander CEO resigns as retailer struggles

  • Article by: SUSAN FEYDER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 8, 2008 - 10:07 PM

The top executive of Gander Mountain Co. resigned Monday, less than two weeks after the St. Paul-based retailer of outdoor gear reported an unexpectedly large decline in same-store sales.

The company said Mark Baker resigned as CEO, president and a director of the company, which sells hunting, fishing, boating, camping, marine and outdoor lifestyle apparel, products and services. Baker, who joined Gander about six years ago, has been named president and chief operating officer of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., where he has been a director since 2004.

Gander's chairman, David Pratt, will serve as interim CEO until a successor is found. Baker has agreed to remain as an employee during a transition period that will end Sept. 30, the company said.

Baker's departure follows a report last month of an 11.7 percent drop in same-store sales for its second quarter ended Aug. 2. Total revenues rose almost 17 percent while net losses were $4.9 million, compared with a loss of $9.7 million for the same period the previous year.

Like other leisure-oriented retailers, Gander has struggled to grow sales as consumers cope with higher prices for basic necessities like food and gasoline.

Gander's stock has been trading recently at around $3.60 a share and closed Monday at $3.63 a share, down two cents. The stock price has fallen by about 25 percent since the start of the year.

Baker's total compensation of nearly $1.3 million for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31 was up about 34 percent from the previous year despite the company's loss of $31 million. In the middle of the fiscal year, the company ditched a compensation plan that would have cut his base salary to $0 and substantially boosted his incentive pay. Baker's salary was reset to $650,000. Executives said the change was made because Gander's sales weren't living up to expectations.

In a statement Monday, Pratt credited Baker for expanding Gander to 115 stores, guiding the company's re-entry into the direct marketing business with the acquisition of Overton's and launching an e-commerce site and catalog. "With Mark's help, we have also put in place strategic and cost-saving initiatives that offer opportunities for improved performance during the remainder of fiscal 2008 and beyond," Pratt said.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723

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