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Old 22-01-2015, 12:52   #1
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West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Recently I had a discussion with "someone in the know" (at a level higher than a store manager) of changes occurring with West Marine.

The discussion with him was that West Marine is slowly going out of the boating, especially the support for sailboats business, and concentrating more on lifestyle merchandising. Although many lambaste WM, the reality is that many of us appreciate the convenience. His observations are confirmed by this news article.

I suspect more will be known in the conference call that will be held on January 29/15 as per the WM announcement:
West Marine will host a conference call to discuss the information included in this press release on January 29, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The conference call will be simultaneously webcast live over the Internet at Boat Parts, Sailing, Kayaks, Paddleboards and Marine Electronics | West Marine on the "Investor Relations" page. Please allow extra time prior to the call to visit the site and download the streaming media software required to listen to the Internet broadcast.

The call is available by dialing (888) 756-1546 in the U.S. and Canada and (706) 634-1041 for international callers. Please be prepared to give the conference ID number 71933441. An audio replay of the call will be available January 29, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time through February 5, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. The replay number is (855) 859-2056 in the U.S. and Canada and (404) 537-3406 for international callers. The access code is 71933441.
The individual I had my discussion with advised that the competition from online sources were impacting West Marine's brick and mortar business, and not to be surprised if we see fewer stores. WM has already announced they are leaving Canada. As he indicated, the marine supply sector is a shrinking part of their sales, with more concentration on clothing and to attempt to attract a younger demographic. It does look like they will keep their portsupply.com going, at least for now.

There have been some significant senior personal changes over the past year, including their long-time VP, Chuck Hawley, as well as their CFO who is moving on.

Nothing is permanent but change itself. I'm not sure if this is a good development for sailors.
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Old 22-01-2015, 13:34   #2
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

The times they are a changing, Following the path of Land's End, they are. Well, it'll be good for Defender.

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Old 22-01-2015, 14:34   #3
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Yes many marine stores will be happy. I guess I better use my coupon(s) soon.
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Old 22-01-2015, 14:50   #4
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

at Christmas time, in the West Marine in Jacksonville FL I would say that 80% of the shoppers were buying "lifestyle" products.
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Old 22-01-2015, 14:57   #5
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

This was predictable. If you look at how to stores are arranged... clothing and "gadgets" in the front/right, fishing and kayaking in the middle, electronics and stereos to the left... you finally get to the actual way over-priced marine stuff in the back.

This is good... maybe it'll help some of those mom-and-pop shops stay open.
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Old 22-01-2015, 15:01   #6
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Sad Really liked their annual catalogue, very informative, a great resource. Hope they will continue that part. Boating recreation in Canada, IMHO, has declined or at least stagnated through the past decade, for what ever reason the interest is not there. At least in cruising amongst the greatlakes.


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Old 22-01-2015, 15:27   #7
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

West Marine may be changing, But its a change for the better for both the customer and the company.. Matt Hyde is running the show now and has the best team ever working with him..
The New "FlagShip" stores are proof of that.
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Old 22-01-2015, 15:34   #8
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Sounds like West Marine is going the way of Radio Shack.
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Old 22-01-2015, 15:40   #9
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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Originally Posted by nimblemotors View Post
Sounds like West Marine is going the way of Radio Shack.
If you get the chance one of these days, take a drive down to Marin, and visit the New "FlagShip" store .. It aint no Radio Shack..
And While there, stop in the fishing department and say Hi.
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Old 22-01-2015, 15:44   #10
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Does anyone know what the relative markups are on clothing, etc vs hardware?

I've been a customer since the days of West Coast Ropes and buying stuff from Randy in Palo Alto. I remember being in their first big store in Alameda before the shelves were stocked... it seemed huge! Seems to me that their persona began changing rapidly when they went public and started their huge expansion efforts. From my point of view, it has all been downhill, changing a great store into a typical profit above all giant.

If they quietly went into the yuppie clothing biz entirely I'd not miss them much. I too hope that there will be a few more smaller chandlers about, but on line buying is gonna be hard for them to fight as well.

Changing times...

Jim
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Old 22-01-2015, 15:50   #11
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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Originally Posted by Randyonr3 View Post
If you get the chance one of these days, take a drive down to Marin, and visit the New "FlagShip" store .. It aint no Radio Shack..
And While there, stop in the fishing department and say Hi.
Randy, I assume that you are connected with West Marine. Perhaps you could comment on what the flagship stores actually carry. Certainly the observation that clothing, sunglasses, stand up paddleboards, excetera is being featured as opposed to sailing equipment, is obvious in any West Marine I have been in in the Tampa area in the last month.

The person I was talking to, seem to be quite knowledgeable about future plans. Those did not appear to concentrate on supplies or equipment for sailboats.

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Old 22-01-2015, 15:52   #12
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Does anyone know what the relative markups are on clothing, etc vs hardware?

I've been a customer since the days of West Coast Ropes and buying stuff from Randy in Palo Alto. I remember being in their first big store in Alameda before the shelves were stocked... it seemed huge! Seems to me that their persona began changing rapidly when they went public and started their huge expansion efforts. From my point of view, it has all been downhill, changing a great store into a typical profit above all giant.

If they quietly went into the yuppie clothing biz entirely I'd not miss them much. I too hope that there will be a few more smaller chandlers about, but on line buying is gonna be hard for them to fight as well.

Changing times...

Jim
Jim, WM margins are now under 30%, and I suspect the lifestyle merchandize move is a significant reason why some of the changes are being done, to get those margins up.

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Old 22-01-2015, 16:17   #13
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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Originally Posted by avb3 View Post
Randy, I assume that you are connected with West Marine. Perhaps you could comment on what the flagship stores actually carry. Certainly the observation that clothing, sunglasses, stand up paddleboards, excetera is being featured as opposed to sailing equipment, is obvious in any West Marine I have been in in the Tampa area in the last month.

The person I was talking to, seem to be quite knowledgeable about future plans. Those did not appear to concentrate on supplies or equipment for sailboats.

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Its probably best at this time that people follow your first statement and listin in on the call..
I will say that the most heard comment from people visiting our store is "WOW".....
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Old 22-01-2015, 16:38   #14
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

You have to shake your head at the "bottom-line" mentality. Maybe there's more profit in the non-boaty "lifestyle" stuff, but it's the boat supplies that bring the customers through the door. If WM only wants to carry stuff I can find at any sporting goods store, or for that matter Walmart, why would I go there?
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Old 22-01-2015, 16:54   #15
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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You have to shake your head at the "bottom-line" mentality. Maybe there's more profit in the non-boaty "lifestyle" stuff, but it's the boat supplies that bring the customers through the door. If WM only wants to carry stuff I can find at any sporting goods store, or for that matter Walmart, why would I go there?
It's obvious they don't want you......more $$ in clothes than boating supplies and the CEO gets paid on revenue/profit, the shareholders couldn't care less what they sell.

Reality is I spend low single digit percentages of my boat maintenance $$ at WM. They simply don't carry what I need, hence if I have to order it, why would I buy it at their prices? I could have a Port Supply card tomorrow, but then the prices would be about the level of competitors, so why?
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