UPDATED 6 pm, March 11, Update at end of article.
In a teleconference with all Sportsman’s Warehouse employees yesterday afternoon CEO Stu Utgaard announced that 23 of the company’s 67 stores would be closing in the next few months, including two stores in Idaho (Pocatello and Nampa) and one in Colorado (Aurora). Other Idaho stores and all Montana stores would remain open.
In a phone interview with NewWest.Net, Utgaard explained that the company ran in to major cash crunch. “UFA did not close the transaction,” he explained. “They missed four closing dates. Now, we have no liquidity.”
And the banks are putting extreme pressure on the company to reduce debt, he said. “They have all the money. They (the banks) are trying to force us into bankruptcy, and we’re trying to avoid it.”
“We’re closing 23 stores to reduce our bank debt,” he explained, “and we’re selling 15 stores to UFA for the same reason. We are now a 29- store chain.”
In the teleconference, Utgaard said UFA will have the rights to use the Sportsman’s Warehouse brand on the 15 stores for up to two years, but will likely start the process of re-branding the stores as Warehouse Sports, a similar Canadian sports store chain UFA already owns.
These 23 stores are being liquidated: Aurora, CO, Coon Rapids, MN, DePere, WI, Henderson, NV, Lafayette, IN, Las Cruces, NM, Las Vegas, NV, Legacy, TX, Memphis, TN, Nampa, ID, New Berlin, WI, Oklahoma City, OK, Pittsburgh, PA, Pocatello, ID, Roanoke, VA, Rogers, AR, Round Rock, TX, St. Cloud, MN, Sioux Falls, SD, Southaven, MS, Visalia, CA, Wichita, KS and Woodbury, MN
These 15 stores are being sold to UFA: Bend, OR, Bozeman, MT, Burlington, WA, Coeur d’Alene, ID, Fargo, ND, Federal Way, WA, Helena, MT, Kennewick, WA, Lacey, WA, Missoula, MT, Portland, OR, Salem, OR, Silverdale, WA, Spokane, WA, and Vancouver, WA
NewWest.Net has calls into the corporate offices of UFA for comment and will update this story if more details come in.
UPDATE, 6 pm, March 11: After repeated attempts to get a comment from UFA for this story, NewWest.Net received a prepared statement from UFA tonight. In the statement, UFA said that after a ” comprehensive due diligence process” coupled with the “continuing deterioration of the North American economy,” UFA has decided not to pursue the acquisition under the original terms. Instead, UFA has agreed to take possession of 15 stores in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington in exchange for the first payment already made to Sportsman’s Warehouse as part of the original acquisition deal.
“We cannot predict the future for Sportsman’s Warehouse,” UFA CEO Dallas Thorsteinson announced in the release, “but we are certain the acquisition of these specific locations is good news for the growth and sustainability of UFA.”