Walmart Announces Acquisition Of Moosejaw

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) has announced that it has acquired outdoor apparel retailer MooseJaw for $51 million in cash. Walmart purchased Moosejaw from private equity partners Parallel Investment Partners and W Capital Partners. Moosejaw specializes in outdoor recreation apparel and gear. The company currently has about 350 employees, who will remain in Michigan.

Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala said that Moosejaw’s relationships with more than 400 “cherished” brands make it a good addition to Wal-Mart’s portfolio. Walmart said it will continue to operate the website and 10 stores for Moosejaw as a standalone site and separate retail outlets. The company does not plan to sell Moosejaw-branded merchandise in Wal-Mart stores.

Eoin Comerford, Moosejaw’s chief executive officer, said that customers won’t see much change the company’s website or stores. He said in his statement, “You are going to have the same Moosejaw voice and the same Moosejaw madness is going to be very prevalent.”

The demographics of the two retailers’ customers are quite different. Walmart customers tend to be more working-class while Moosejaw’s are younger and more affluent. It is estimated that 80 percent to 85 percent of Moosejaw’s sales are online. Walmart said it would provide opportunities for Moosejaw suppliers to expand their reach through Walmart’s sites.

Moosejaw was founded in 1992 by long-time friends Robert Wolfe and David Jaffe as Moosejaw Mountaineering and Backcountry Travel in Keego Harbor, Michigan. By 2007, the founders had sold their interest in the company to private equity firms. The company’s self-description on its website calls Moosejaw “the greatest place in the world to work, according to the owner’s mom.”

Moosejaw’s growth stands in contrast to other outdoor gear stores. Bass Pro Shops announced last October that it was buying Cabela’s to save it from slowing sales and declining revenue. More recently, the parent of Eastern Mountain Sports filed for bankruptcy protection. Gander Mountain is also reportedly considering filing for bankruptcy.

Jariwala said Walmart will both continue looking for acquisition opportunities and push for organic growth. In January, Walmart announced it was acquiring for $70 million. Last year, Walmart bought Hoboken, N.J. start-up Jet for about $3 billion in cash and $300 million in Walmart shares. and operate as separate brands but join on technology and talent.

Walmart currently has more than 11,000 stores and a robust ecommerce presence. Its online growth has accelerated in the last two quarters after slowing in the preceding eight. The company reported that its e-commerce sales increased 20.6 percent in the third quarter. Walmart is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday.