Gander Mountain has officially entered bankruptcy. The outdoor retailer filed for Chapter 11 Friday, with plans to sell the company as quickly as possible. It will also close 32 underperforming stores in 11 states over the coming weeks.
Financing from Wells Fargo will allow Gander Mountain to remain open while it attempts to find a buyer. The Star Tribune reports that Gander is having active discussions with several buyers and plans to hold an auction in April. The deal is expected to close by mid-May.
The move comes after a strategic review of the company showed the need for a lower-cost operating model. Gander Mountain reportedly didn’t have the financial capacity or time necessary to restructure itself, so the next best option was to sell the company on a “going-concern” basis—Gander will remain in business for the foreseeable future and will not have to liquidate its assets.
“Like many retailers, Gander Mountain experienced challenging traffic patterns and shifts in consumer demand resulting from increased direct-to-customer sales by key vendors and accelerated growth of e-commerce,” the company said in a press release. “Despite aggressive actions to improve the efficiency of the company’s retail operations and support functions, the underlying financial impact from underperforming stores and unproductive, excess inventory hampered efforts to create a sustainable path forward.”
Gander Mountain currently operates 162 stores across 27 states, nearly 60 of which opened in the last five years as part of its plans for “aggressive expansion,” according to Reuters. SGB Media points to the expansion efforts and a heavy debt load as the cause of Gander’s woes, along with the difficulties that all active-lifestyle retailers are facing.
This is the third time Gander Mountain has filed for Chapter 11—first in 1984, then again in 1996. It’s also the fifth outdoor retailer to file for bankruptcy in the last year, including Sports Authority, EMS, Eastern Outfitters, and Sports Chalet.