In today’s release announcing the split, the company indicated its desire to increase the strategic focus and capital allocation to each branch, enhance the companies’ ability to attract and retain employees, and improve the position of both companies to acquire and partner with relevant brands. The statement did not mention the controversy surrounding the company in 2018, when the outside industry recognized its connection to gun violence.
Vista Outdoor came under fire in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida, when consumers and retailers alike faced decisions about where to put their money. At the time, Vista Outdoor also owned the Savage Arms and Stevens firearms brands, along with the ammunition brands. These contacts, along with Vista Outdoor’s support for the National Rifle Association, sparked outrage that led REI, Canada’s MEC, and several other major retailers to stop buying from Vista Outdoor. They resumed their business relationships after Vista Outdoor sold Savage Arms and Stevens, but kept their brands of ammunition.
In 2020, Vista Outdoor acquired another ammunition brand, Remington. Separating what are now called “sports products” – which will be renamed – from “outside products” – which will also be renamed – means that it can attract investors and partners that might alienate the other company. The two companies will now be publicly traded and completely independent of each other, and current CEO Chris Metz will continue with Outdoor Products, which will be based in Bozeman, Montana. Sporting Products will remain in Anoka, Minnesota, and will be led by Jason Vanderbrink, who previously led the shooting side at Vista Outdoor.
The press release said that the stock of Outdoor Products will be distributed to existing shareholders in 2023, as Outdoor Products establishes itself in its next phase.
Like the rest of the outdoor industry, Vista Outdoor has seen significant gains over the past two years, posting 37% sales growth in fiscal 2021. In the outdoor sports segment, sales rose 18% to $1.3 billion, and gross profit increased by 1 percent. 24% to $399 million. Company-wide sales exceeded $3 billion for the year and gross profit increased 75% to $1.1 billion.