Gander Mountain responded Wednesday to bankruptcy rumors, saying the company had "undertaken a best practices approach to review our strategic options specific to positioning the company for long-term success."
"As a privately held company, it is our long-standing policy not to comment on our business affairs," executives at the St. Paul-based outdoors retailer said in a statement. "Unfortunately, recent speculative news articles have caused concern among some of our customers, employees and trade partners, and require us to make a rare exception."
Reuters reported over the weekend that the company was nearing bankruptcy. The company's statement does not specifically address the report or mention bankruptcy. The company indicated that it has "undertaken a best practices approach to review our strategic options specific to positioning the company for long-term success."
The retailer has hired global investment banking firm Houlihan Lokey as an adviser. With an office in Minneapolis, it specializes in mergers and acquisitions.
Paul Vaaler, a strategic management professor in the U's law school and Carlson School of Management, said he sees four options based on the company's statement: bankruptcy, a sale, liquidation or a deal with creditors.
"We don't know who their creditors are, but it looks like they may be renegotiating with creditors or on their way to bankruptcy," he said.
Gander Mountain said it is subject to "economic cycles, changes in our industry and shifts in consumer demand that require us to adapt our business accordingly."
Outdoor/sporting goods retailers have faced headwinds for several years. Cabela's is being acquired by Bass Pro Shops. Eastern Outfitters, owned by Eastern Mountain Sports, filed for bankruptcy last week.
"You have to wonder what's driving this," Vaaler asked. "Is it Cabela's and others taking market share, the broader trend of buying online or a little bit of both?"
Gander Mountain is the nation's largest chain of outdoors specialty stores with 162 locations in 26 states.
The company started out as a catalog retailer in Wisconsin in 1960.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633