Gander Mountain files for bankruptcy, seeks buyer

New Hartford store will close

St. Paul, Minn. — Outdoor retail giant Gander Mountain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, is seeking a buyer for the company and is closing 32 stores across the country, including its New Hartford story in Oneida County.

The company made the announcements earlier this month, calling the moves the result of “an in-depth review of the company’s strategic options undertaken in recent months to preserve the value of the company and position it for long-term success.”

The company has previously indicated it was moving toward filing Chapter 11, at that time saying it was “undertaking a best-practices approach to review our strategic options specific to positioning the company for long-term success.”

Gander Mountain will continue its operations as it seeks a buyer.

Company officials said a strategic review showed:

“A narrowly focused and lower cost operating model is necessary to position the company for profitable growth;

“The company does not have the financial capacity or time to reset its operations to fully implement the new model and, as a result;

“The best available path forward is to sell the company on a going-concern basis.”

Analysts pointed to the company’s increased competition from online retails such as Amazon.com, as well as the looming merger of outdoor mega retailers Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, a $5.5 billion deal still subject to regulatory approval.

“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 statement.

While the New Hartford store is targeted for closure, other New York stores – in Tonawanda, Henrietta, Johnson City, Cicero, Watertown, Middletown, Kingston and Plattsburgh – will remain in operation.

The Johnson City store, in the Binghamton area, was closed for a time when it was flooded in 2011.

Gander Mountain operates 162 stores in 26 states. The company, owned by Gratco, a firm held by Gander CEO David Pratt and the Erickson family, took the chain private in 2010 and undertook an aggressive expansion – some analysts say too ambitious – to the 162 stores it has today.

The company said in its statement it was “in active discussions with a number of parties interested in a going-concern sale and expects to solicit bids prior to an auction to be held in late April.

The company expects to submit the winning bid to the court for approval in early May and anticipates a closing of the sale by May 15.

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