Gander Mountain reports 2008 sales up 9.8 percent

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gander Mountain Co. experienced record consolidated sales of $334.1 million for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, compared to consolidated sales of $317.6 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, a 5.2 percent increase, the company reported in a statement this week.

For the fiscal year, the company reported record sales of $1.1 billion, an increase of 9.8 percent over the prior year. The company reported a net loss for the year of $15.5 million, or ($0.64) per share, compared with a net loss of $31.8 million, or ($1.52) per share for the 2007 fiscal year.

The comparable store sales during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 were down 0.2 percent, an improvement over the 6.5 percent drop in the third quarter of fiscal 2008. Comparable store sales for firearms, ammunition, seasonal hunting and footwear categories were actually up 2.7 percent during the quarter, but they were negated by a 2.9 percent decline in boats, ATV sales and power sport services, which are categories the company said it is in the process of exiting.

"Gander Mountain improved its performance through the year in total revenues, operating performance and cash generation as we applied a more disciplined approach to our operations, capital, and expense decisions," David C. Pratt, chairman and interim chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Thus far into 2009, in a difficult retail environment, we continue to see progress in operating performance. Our ongoing efforts to build the leadership team, improve operating margins, and reduce debt should continue the momentum we generated in the 'New Gander Mountain' this last fiscal year."

Retail segment sales for the fourth quarter were $322.0 million, an increase of $10.0 million or 3.2 percent, as compared to the fiscal 2007 fourth quarter. Direct segment sales were $12.1 million for the quarter, compared to $5.5 million for the same quarter last year.

The company said the increase in Direct segment sales resulted primarily from the startup of the new Gander Direct Internet and catalog operations in the third quarter of fiscal 2008 and the inclusion of Overton's, acquired in December 2007, for the full quarter in fiscal 2008.

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A pre-recorded call offering with additional comments on the quarter will be available to all investors on the company's Web site, GanderMtn.com.

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