Johnson Watercaft to Close Bellingham, Wash., Offices


Racine, Wis., Johnson Outdoors Inc, (JOUT:NASDAQ) says the plan will improve the profit profile of its Watercraft business, which includes such brands as Ocean Kayak, Necky, Old Town Canoe, Carlisle Paddles and more. The effort includes a restructuring of the unit’s U.S. and European operations and streamlining at its Old Town, Maine facility.

“Last fall, we combined Watercraft and Outdoor Gear units to drive progress against a specialty channel growth platform and return Watercraft to profitability,” says Helen Johnson-Leipold, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Today’s actions are necessary to best position the business for future success and increase the velocity of meaningful innovation for paddling enthusiasts. We remain committed to building long-term value for our customers and our shareholders, and are confident today’s actions will help us do so.”

In particular, the Watercraft division will transition to a lower-cost local independent distributor business model in Europe by the end of July 2012; and its Watercraft R&D and marketing divisions will move to Old Town, Maine, from Bellingham over the next year, consolidating all U.S. Watercraft personnel at one location to quicken the pace of new product development and speed-to-market. According to PL sources, all employees in Bellingham were offered the chance to move to Old Town, with no one accepting.

In total, 17 positions in the U.S. and 11 in Europe will be impacted by the actions, including such longtime Johnson Watercraft personnel as Sara Knies and designer Spike Gladwin.

Boat sales led the growth, up 24 percent over 2011, followed by accessories, which gained 17 percent. The only slip has been in apparel, which has dipped 4 percent. And maybe that’s also due to the period’s mild, warm weather, which analysts feel is responsible for the other sectors’ gains.

As a result of these actions, the Company anticipates annual cost-savings of $2.0 million by the end of Fiscal 2014. Total costs and charges associated with the actions are estimated between $2.0 – $2.5 million to be incurred over the next twelve months.

JOHNSON OUTDOORS is a leading global outdoor recreation company that turns ideas into adventure with innovative, top-quality products. The company designs, manufactures and markets a portfolio of winning, consumer-preferred brands across four categories: Watercraft, Marine Electronics, Diving and Outdoor Equipment. Johnson Outdoors’ familiar brands include, among others: Old Town® canoes and kayaks; Ocean Kayak™ and Necky® kayaks; Carlisle® paddles; Extrasport® personal flotation devices; Minn Kota® motors; Cannon® downriggers; Humminbird® fishfinders and marine electronics; Lake Master® electronic charts; SCUBAPRO® and SUBGEAR® dive equipment; Silva® compasses; Tech4O® digital instruments; and Eureka!® tents.
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