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Retail Trends

Power Players Sporting Goods

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At Cabela’s annual meeting last month, a record number of attending shareholders heard about the 16 new stores the company plans to add over the next two years and honored founders Dick and Mary Cabela, but mostly they celebrated a very good year. In the fiscal year ended in February, Cabela’s total sales rose 7 percent — roughly a third of which were in its e-commerce and catalog division. Also during the year, Cabela’s introduced its smallest-ever format, a 40,000-sq.-ft. “outpost” store in Union Gap, Wash.

REI, which lost CEO Sally Jewell when she was tapped to be Secretary of the Interior, also saw sales rise 7 percent. Earnings declined 4 percent, however, precipitating the layoff of “a limited” number of employees.

Dick’s is the unquestioned leader of the sporting goods group and aims to keep it that way. After launching a strategy for smaller markets, the company has increased the number of stores it feels it can open. Last year Dick’s opened two True Runner footwear stores and is working on a concept for a dedicated Field & Stream store specializing in fishing and hunting gear. The company, which also owns the Golf Galaxy chain, tops its segment with an 8.5 percent share of market, according to Barron’s. Bolstered by in-store shops featuring partners like Nike, Under Armour and The North Face, Dick’s enjoyed a 10 percent earnings boost last year and saw same-store sales increase 4 percent.

A company to watch in this group is Fanatics, an e-commerce business selling licensed jerseys and jackets as well as other merchandise with team logos. “We think there’s huge potential in sports apparel and for Fanatics to grow,” says CEO Michael Rubin, who expects revenues this year to be about $1 billion. Fanatics is owned by Kynetic, parent company of RueLaLa and shipping site ShopRunner.

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