What does Bass Pro owe Cabela’s hometown?
In the city of Sidney, NE, about a third of the city’s residents have been on edge since October 2016 when Bass Pro announced it would purchase their hometown employer, Cabela’s.
About 2,000 of the city’s 6,800 residents work at Cabela’s and many Nebraskan newspapers as well as local legislators have fretted about the loss of many jobs in their community. Bass Pro’s headquarters are in Springfield, MO.
As with any merger, Cabela’s has to worry about both employee morale and possible customer backlash, but in this case, the problems seem to be on a larger scale.
At a meeting at Cabela’s headquarters about a week after the merger announcement, Bass Pro CEO Johnny Morris reassured Cabela’s employees that Bass Pro would retain a “significant” base of operations in Nebraska. But he added, “We don’t want to make false promises, because there’s gonna be change, there’s gonna be some slimming down.”
The deal finally closed on September 25 and more details on the transition arrived last Thursday in an 11-page letter to Cabela’s employees.
In the letter, according to the Omaha World-Herald, Mr. Morris noted that 1,000 outdoors-related stores have closed in recent years while highlighting Cabela’s declining sales, losses and exorbitant corporate overhead. He added, “It is now time for a new approach and to turn around the strategies that did not work.”
He noted that an additional $10 million has been allocated to extend benefits and pay for employees who may lose their jobs.
At the same time, the letter noted that a number of jobs, including Cabela’s information technology division, a call center, and a “significant” part of Cabela’s accounting operations, will remain in Sidney. Other positions are still being evaluated.
Employees in Sidney will be consolidated into one of the Cabela’s buildings. Empty buildings on Cabela’s campus will “effectively be donated” to the city of Sidney. Bass Pro will lease them for $1 per year to any qualified businesses opening an operation in Sidney.
Mr. Morris wrote, “One of our biggest priorities is to be as thoughtful to Cabela’s outfitters and the City of Sidney as we possibly can, and go above and beyond what is required to be very fair and supportive.”
- Legendary Outdoor Brands Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s to Combine – Bass Pro
- Cabela’s acquisition leaves Sidney ‘on edge,’ but some hold on to hope that town can survive – Omaha World-Herald
- Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s join forces with a vision to become North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company – Bass Pro
- Cabela’s Shareholders Approve Combination with Bass Pro Shops – Bass Pro
- Bass Pro begins detailing what Cabela’s operations will stay in Sidney; no word on cuts – Omaha World-Herald
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s your general advice on softening the blow of pending layoffs on employee morale amid mergers? Is the strategy for shoring up public support for any merger-related changes generally the same? Any advice for Bass Pro?