News reports on Thursday speculated that Bass Pro Shops, a privately held outdoor retailer, may be considering buying out one of its biggest competitors: Cabela’s. According to Reuters, several sources familiar with the matter have said that Bass Pro is currently working with an investment bank to come up with a potential offer. Neither Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s have made any official statements on the matter.

“We are aware of recent media speculation and our policy is not to comment on market rumors,” Bass Pro spokesperson Jack Wlezien told the Springfield News-Leader.

Observers noted that the speculation started after an investor, Elliot Management Corp, announced last month that it owns six percent of Cabela’s shares and holds options to buy another five percent. Elliot called for the company to implement changes and explore new options, such as a sale to a private equity firm. Following the publication of the Reuters report, Cabela’s shares jumped 13 percent to as high as $44.81 on Thursday.

As of early 2015, Cabela’s has around 64 stores in the United States and Canada and employs about 19,300 people. The outdoor retailer was originally founded as a mail-order business in 1961 by its namesake Richard Cabela. Cabela started the company with nothing more than $45 worth of fishing flies, and ran the business from his kitchen table with his wife. The ease of purchasing through direct-mail orders quickly caught on and by 1969, Cabela had settled his business within a 50,000 square-foot facility in downtown Sidney, Nebraska. Today, Cabela’s Sidney headquarters has expanded to over 250,000 square feet and the company runs one of the largest mail-order operations in the United States, in addition to its brick and mortar stores.

Bass Pro Shops came from similar origins. While the chain now counts more than 70 retail stores and over 20,000 employees, it first started in the 1970s in the back of a Springfield, Missouri liquor store. Bass Pro Shops founder John Morris built his business by selling fishing supplies out of the back of his father’s shop, but high demand eventually lead to a mail-order catalog and before long, stores started opening up across the United States and Canada. In 2015, Bass Pro opened a store inside the famed Memphis Pyramid, which is currently its largest store. Bass Pro’s headquarters remain in Springfield and the company is the fifth largest employer in the metropolitan area.

If Bass Pro is successful in purchasing Cabela’s, observers say that the company will have firmly increased its grip on the outdoor retail market. It is not currently known how Bass Pro plans to handle the merger of the two companies should the acquisition go through.


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16 thoughts on “Bass Pro Reportedly Interested in Buying Cabela’s

  1. Hope that this does NOT happen. I have been to both stores around the country and each has it’s own way of doing business. besides, joining them into one megastore is or will be bad for buyers as they will have the main market and can set prices for goods high or lower to stomp other sporting goods stores.

  2. I agree Bob. I don’t think Bass Pro is nearly as good as Cabella’s and I think a merger is a very bad idea all around. I hope Cabella’s customers will object to this and let them know.

  3. I personally hope this doesn’t happen. I am currently an employees of Cabela’s and have been in Bass Pro Shops. Not as an employee but as an outdoor enthusiast I feel Cabela’s offers more of a variety. Cabela’s employees are definitely friendlier than Bass Pro Shops. You walk in a Cabela’s and everyone greets you. Whenever I have been in Bass Pro no one lets on like you’re there.

    I believe Cabela’s has better selection of items than Bass Pro. I have heard from Bass Pro customer when they come in to Cabela’s and most have said they prefer Cabela’s over Bass Pro.

    One person who hopes the merge doesn’t happen.

  4. WOnder what wil happen to C’s return, repair and taking care of customers, as well as prices and selections, competition between business is best for consumers, and less is great for the money folks. Not a great thing for buyers, but the money talks everywhere, business to politics and guess who gets the short end of it, again,

  5. I have used both companies shopping online for many years, decades really, and in recent years Bass Pro built a store close to me I like as well. Cabela’s also built one, but quite a bit further of a trip and haven’t been to it yet. Anyway, I’ve always liked them both for what they are, the different products lines they have, etc., and would prefer they stayed as separate companies. Somehow I feel we as customers are better off this way and benefit from their competition. Them merging would be just another corporate conglomerate, out for the quick cheap buck while controlling the market, and our choices diminished as well.

  6. Been involved with cabelas for over 10 years
    Since the company went public we have steadily gone down hill
    Our CEO ruined remmington and has done the samething to cabelas
    Pull every nickle out you can
    We were founded on customer service but have let that slip away to save a dollar for tommy’s next big bonus
    Today Dick Cabela our founder rolled in his grave

    1. Spoken like a long term outfitter. I’m from 9 and I agree. You notice none of this crap started until after Dick died. The company died with him.

  7. 1st, this is about profit, and has nothing at all to do with joe-buyer’s loyalty to one store, customer service, etc. If an acquisition, then most likely each brand will continue to operate under their current name. At a high level, management will change. Sadly, prices will be centrally controlled (this is the negative for us consumers). The unnamed winner in this scenario will be Amazon. REPEAT, Amazon will be the winner.

    Who will prevent this merger from taking place??? Because of their market shares, there will be a monopoly which will attract the attention of the FTC. As they say, it aint over ’til the fat lady sings.

  8. They will operate the same as now, only pricing will optimized…. Cabelas used to offer a price break to consumers. Especially with their brand of stuff. Their stuff was excellent with an excellent price. I bought a set of rain gear about ten years ago and it is in perfect condition and still works great. I saved around $120 over the well known competition. Now I see their prices are around the same as those well known companies. No savings. I find now that cabelas and bass pro are near the top on pricing. They are shedding customers. The new customers are simply ignorant and have nothing to compare it to. I’ve stopped shopping at either over the last 5 years. Long live the independent shops…..

  9. This would be a disaster for customers. No competition and the MBA’s will surely turn both of these stores into places I don’t want to go. No service, no returns, lower quality, high prices, and mean employees.

    Bad idea.

  10. I have worked for both companies and, from experience, Johnny is better to work for. Cabela’s pays it’s outfitters just enough to starve and I can only think of 2 managers in the Hamburg store that have any clue what they’re doing.

    Cabela’s lost it’s edge because they began hiring anyone with a pulse and they fell behind with actual EXPERIENCE with products the outfitters sell. Field Testing has gone by the wayside and management positions are given to the people who kiss the best a$$

    I hope a merger takes place. I would LOVE to go back to work for Bass Pro.

  11. I don’t like this at all. I have been a Cabla’s on line customer for a couple of decades. I have also shopped BPS when they are more competitive. I believe in comparison buying. If they combine they can fix prices. Also I like the ambiance of shopping a long term family business. They get too big those forget the customer in comparison to making money. Actually I’ve felt the past few years that Cabela’s was already too impersonal at times.

  12. Cabelas is by far the best in variety and customer service I personally would be very disappointed to see this merger take place. The employees at our local Cabelas are so great at customer service and happiness in serving customers here in NC I wanted to apply for a job, seemed like these were the happiest employees ever.

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