Lock and unload: Vista Outdoor announces plans to sell off Giro, Bell and Blackburn

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US-based outdoor conglomerate Vista Outdoor has announced plans to sell off some of its biggest cycling brands, including helmet manufacturers Giro and Bell. We previously reported how the brands had attracted calls for a boycott, after it was publicised in the wake of the Marjorie Stoneman school shooting that Vista, whose core business is ammunition and firearms, had made substantial donations to the National Rifle Association. Vista brands were subsequently dropped by two major outdoor retailers in the US and Canada, as well as some smaller independent shops.


In a statement released on 1 May to accompany its annual financial report, the listed company announced that it plans to”focus on achieving growth through its market-leading brands in ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories, hydration bottles and packs, and outdoor cooking products.” The statement goes on to say “The company plans to explore strategic options for assets that fall outside of these product categories, including its remaining Sports Protection brands (e.g. Bell, Giro, and Blackburn)”.

Vista Outdoor’s website showcases their diverse portfolio of brands

Vista Outdoor CEO Chris Metz confirmed in a conference call with investors that Vista is looking to sell the brands by the end of its 2020 financial year, according to reports on Bicycleretailer.com. However he denied that the boycott was the reason behind the sale: “We’ve had some small independent dealers that sided with the REI side and we’ve had some independent dealers, frankly, that stepped up and said, ‘We want to take advantage of this market opportunity and replace that volume.’ In total it’s built into our guidance and expectations, and fortunately we have been on this path of strategically determining where we wanted to guide the company way before any of the noise came about eight weeks ago.”

The sharp-eyed among you will have spotted that Camelbak, also owned by Vista, aren’t included in the sell-off. Camelbak has been part of the Vista stable for slightly longer than Giro, Bell and Blackburn, which were only acquired by the parent company in 2016. Vista will also be selling its firearms brands, although it’ll continue to manufacture ammunition and accessories such as telescopic sights.

Antony was a latecomer to the joys of riding off-road, and he’s continued to be a late adopter of many of his favourite things, including full suspension, dropper posts, 29ers, and adult responsibility. At some point he decided to compensate for his lack of natural riding talent by organising maintenance days on his local trails. This led, inadvertently, to writing for Singletrack, after one of his online rants about lazy, spoilt mountain bikers who never fix trails was spotted and reprinted on this website during a particularly slow news week. Now based just up the road from the magazine in West Yorkshire, he’s expanded his remit to include reviews and features as well as rants. He’s also moved on from filling holes in the woods to campaigning for changes to the UK’s antiquated land access laws, and probing the relationship between mountain biking and the places we ride. He’s a firm believer in bringing mountain biking to the people, whether that’s through affordable bikes, accessible trails, enabling technology, or supportive networks. He’s also studied sustainable transport, and will happily explain to anyone who’ll listen why the UK is a terrible place for everyday utility cycling, even though it shouldn’t be. If that all sounds a bit worthy, he’s also happy to share tales of rides gone awry, or delicate bike parts burst asunder by ham-fisted maintenance. Because ultimately, there are enough talented professionals in mountain bike journalism, and it needs more rank amateurs.

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