Merge of Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop leaves uncertainty
It’s been less than a year since it was announced a buyer was sought for Cabela’s, which started to struggle against other companies, and it was announced Oct. 3 privately owned Bass Pro Shops is that buyer.
It was rumored Bass Pro Shops was interested in the purchase of one of its largest competitors. It went through with the purchase for $4.5 billion.
“In my view this really is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for both of our companies and clearly provides the foundation to create a ‘best of the best’ shopping experience for all outdoor enthusiasts worldwide for generations to come,” said Bass Pro Shops’ founder/CEO Johnny Morris in an open letter Oct. 3.
The companies won’t fully merge until mid-2017, and until then the two companies will remain separate, but the looming merge does mean uncertainty for those in Sidney, Neb., home base for Cabela’s.
“I know this change brings significant disruption and uncertainty for the citizens of Cheyenne County and the surrounding communities,” said Gov. Pete Ricketts in a news release. “My office, the Department of Economic Development, and the Department of Labor stand ready to assist area residents and communities to find opportunities. Nebraskans have faced challenges in the past, and we overcome them by working together. We will face these new circumstances by working together as well.”
According to multiple sources, Cabela’s has 85 stores and employs about 19,000 people. With headquarters in Sidney, what will happen to the town’s economy is uncertain.
According to the Wall Street Journal, of those 19,000 jobs, about 8,000 are in Sidney alone. Bass Pro will keep its headquarters in Missouri, so the economic impact of the sale is unknown.
The sale was rumored for a few months, as Cabela’s searched for a buyer and same-store sales were on a downturn.
The store was public for about 11 years before the financial struggles.
Cabela’s opened in 1961 in Sidney by Dick, Mary and Jim Cabela. The store was privatized until 2004. The dependency on the company isn’t just in Sidney. Most employees travel to the town to work.
“Cabela’s has long served as a cornerstone of western Nebraska’s economy, and I hope Bass Pro Shops will see the value in maintaining operations in Sidney,” said Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., in a news release. “Thousands of Nebraskans have worked tirelessly to build the Cabela’s brand, which is respected nationwide and around the world. Our state has a pro-growth economy and an unmatched work ethic, which I urge Bass Pro Shops to consider when determining a path forward.”
While no direct plan for what the end result will look like for employees at Cabela’s and in Sidney, Morris said the combination of the two will look into the best interests of both companies.
Morris said Bass Pro will remain private, but will keep the roots the two companies share.
“The combination of our two companies will honor and build upon this legacy,” Morris said. “Bass Pro Shops has every intention of celebrating and growing the Cabela’s brand. We will work hard to foster the qualities that customers love most about both Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s.” ❖