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Camping World CEO to Open Gander Stores, Undercut Competitors

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Speaking at Stephens 2017 Spring Investment Conference, Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World, said the company is not only planning to reduce the amount of firearms in the reborn Gander Mountain stores but also vowed to underprice any nearby competition.

This story originally appeared on SGB Media.

Elaborating on the decision to move Camping World into the hunt & fish space, Lemonis said the “only reason” Gander Mountain and its sister company, Overton’s, were acquired was to further increase its “dominance of the outdoor enthusiast” in its database and support its Good Sam services business. The Good Sam side includes club memberships, credit card services, warranty insurance, repair and other aftermarket services.

Overton’s was acquired in part because of its “great historical cash flow” but also because the marine industry is the “next target” for Good Sam. With Camping World, the company has a strong reach into camping and RV customers and marine customers were a natural extension.

In acquiring Gander Mountain, Camping World, which went public in October, is adding 3 million customers who “hunt, fish and camp” to its database. That will open opportunities to sell RVs or a truck camper, as well as club memberships that provides a discount on fishing or hunting gear, a store credit card, as well as ancillary services such as roadside assistance.

Overall, Lemonis said Camping World doesn’t view itself as an RV retailer but “as a data mining company” and one that “focuses on how to control the consumer inside the RV and outdoor leisure space.”

EBITDA on the Good Sam business will reach about $80 million this year, up from $78 million the prior year.

As far as Gander Mountain, Lemonis said Camping World is already well on its way on its plans to restore profitability.

Gander’s past distribution center model has been renegotiated and is now merged into Camping World’s distribution center model. Instead of four distribution centers serving Gander and Overton’s, five will hold product for Camping World, Gander and Overton’s to support all three chains. The change is also expected to help enhance delivery of online orders.

Camping World acquired the designation rights to all 160 Gander leases and has until October 6 to retain or reject them. Some may be sold to other retailers. As part of the bankruptcy process, all of Gander’s 160 stores were allowed to liquidate. The company is contractually obligated to retain 17 of the 160 Gander leases. Of the 160, 110 of them were four-wall cash flow positive before any rent renegotiations.

Lemonis has so far cited 58 former Gander Mountain stores he expects Camping world will retain. In the first phase, 20 stores are scheduled to reopen by November. Another ten and 15 will reopen by December 1 with additional openings set for the months further ahead. Lemonis said the company will likely keep between 60 and 80. The stores are being renamed Gander Outdoor.

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