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Gander Mountain Said to Draw Sportsman's Warehouse Interest

  • Offer may keep 80% of the outdoor sports chain’s stores open
  • Hilco and Gordon are lined up to liquidate unwanted locations

Gander Mountain Co., the bankrupt retailer of hunting and fishing gear, has attracted buyer interest that could keep most of its stores open after the company restructures its debt, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc. is planning to bid for as many as 80 percent of Gander Mountain’s stores, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Sportsman’s Warehouse is still deciding whether it would keep the Gander Mountain name on those locations or run them under its own brand, the people said. 

Midvale, Utah-based Sportsman’s Warehouse has almost 80 stores in 22 states, mostly in the western U.S., with some in the mid-Atlantic region. St. Paul, Minnesota-based Gander Mountain’s locations, more than 160 in 27 states, are concentrated in the east. Sportsman’s Warehouse has about $200 million in debt and its revenue has been rising in recent years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Gander Mountain filed for bankruptcy on March 10. Gordon Brothers and Hilco Merchant Resources agreed to act as opening bidders in a late-April auction “to facilitate a seamless sale of the company as a going concern,” Gander Mountain said on March 30. The company said at the time that it was still in talks “with a number of interested parties.”

Jess Myers, a spokesman for Gander Mountain, declined to comment on potential bids. Karen Seaman at Sportsman’s Warehouse didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.  

Sportsman’s Warehouse shares closed at $4.49 on Monday, a 2-cent gain, after climbing as high $4.59 earlier in the session.

Sports Hit

Stores in the U.S. are closing at a record pace, with sporting-goods chains hit hard as shoppers seek more bargains online and consumer tastes change. Golfsmith International Holdings Inc., Sports Authority Inc. and Eastern Outfitters LLC all entered Chapter 11 in the past 12 months. Eastern may shutter more than half its stores under a deal with buyer Sportsdirect.com, while Sports Authority is liquidating altogether.

Gander Mountain brought in Gordon and Hilco to conduct going-out-of-business sales at all its stores if no buyer comes forward to save the chain, according to court documents. The agreement was designed to enable Gander Mountain “to continue to pursue and accommodate a sale of assets, in particular on going concern basis, to any potential buyer,” the company said in the contract filed with the bankruptcy court.

Gordon and Hilco have guaranteed that if they sell all the merchandise in its stores and warehouses, Gander Mountain will collect 91 percent of the wholesale cost of the items, which was estimated at $390 million to $430 million. If a going-concern buyer wins the auction, the liquidators would collect a $2 million breakup fee.

Under the auction rules, a going-concern bidder will have the option to buy some or all of Gander Mountain’s stores. For every store taken over by such a buyer, Gander Mountain’s recovery under the agreement with Gordon and Hilco would go down.

Gary Epstein at Hilco and Colleen Arons at Gordon Brothers didn’t immediately return requests for comment on their bid.

The case is In re Gander Mountain Co., 17-30673, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota (St. Paul).

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