Anoka-based Vista Outdoor will pay $192.5 million to acquire Simms Fishing Products, a premium brand that can serve as the anchor for its new fishing segment.
The move, announced Wednesday, comes ahead of its plan to split the company into separate outdoor products and ammunition companies next year.
Vista’s ambition is to be the acquirer of choice in the outdoor recreation space, making eight acquisitions in the past two to three years. Two big deals in the last month — Simms and Fox Racing — further strengthen Vista’s reputation as a desired owner for outdoor brands.
“Simms is the perfect fit for our diversified portfolio of leading, iconic outdoor brands,” Chris Metz, Vista Outdoor chief executive, said in a news release. “Simms broadens our core addressable market into the highly attractive fishing category with a premium, innovative brand with significant room for growth.”
Simms Fishing Products is based in Bozeman, Mont. and makes waders, wading boots and other footwear, outerwear and other technical clothing and gear for those who fish.
Earlier in July, Vista announced it would buy Fox Racing for $540 million, plus an additional $50 million in potential milestone payments. Fox makes protective gear and clothing for mountain bike and motocross riders and will fit with Vista’s existing action sports brands like Bell, Giro, Blackburn and others.
None of Vista’s other outdoor products brand has been in the fishing category. The existing brands largely have been in technical clothing and packs, outdoor cooking equipment, hydration products and, recently, golf simulators and launch monitors.
Simms has 170 employees and is expected to generate about $110 million in annual sales. According to a news release, its annual revenue has grown at a compounded annual rate of 15% from 2019 through 2021 and is expected to grow faster in 2022.
“We really like the fishing category in general. It’s got great participation rates,” Metz said. “We looked at a whole lot of potential first entrants in the fishing market and Simms was at the top of the list. … It’s a perfect fit for us.”
Vista plans to split the company into an outdoor products company, which will include Fox Racing and Simms, and a yet-to-be-named ammunition company that will be anchored by Anoka-based Federal and include other ammunition brands like Remington, Speer and CCI.
When the split was announced, the company said the outdoor products company would move its headquarters to Bozeman, which appealed to Simms’ leaders.
“The decision to locate the headquarters of the soon-to-be separated Outdoor Products segment in Bozeman made our decision even easier,” said K.C. Walsh, Simms executive chairman, in a news release. “It will reinforce Simms’ made-in-Montana heritage and strong commitment to our local community.”
Simms CEO Casey Sheahan will continue to run the fishing brand. Walsh will become a strategic adviser and conservation and government affairs advocate.
The deal for Simms and Fox Racing is expected to close in Vista’s second quarter of fiscal year 2023, which ends Sept. 30.
Vista also released its first quarter results after market close Wednesday. The company earned $126 million, or $2.16 a share. Sales increased 21% from a year ago to $802.6 million.
Sales of the Sporting Products group, which includes Federal and Remington, increased 40% to $511 million while sales in the Outdoor Products group decreased 2% to $292 million.
The company’s stock rose 2.65% Thursday.
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