Big 5 Sporting Goods has outgrown its name. The company, which started out with five army surplus shops in California in 1955, is a leading sporting goods retailer with 400-plus stores in a dozen mostly western states, including California, Washington, and Arizona. The company sells brand-name ( adidas, Coleman, Easton) and private-label equipment, apparel, and footwear for indoor and outdoor activities such as camping, hunting, fishing, tennis, golf, and snowboarding. Big 5 has stuck with a neighborhood-store format (averaging approximately 11,000 sq. ft.) instead of opening massive superstores. Big 5 Sporting Goods is run by its chairman and CEO Steven Miller, the son of company co-founder Robert Miller.
With more than half of its stores in financially troubled California, it's not surprising that the sporting goods retailer has struggled in recent years. In 2011, Big 5's financial performance was again underwhelming, with sales growth of less than 1% vs. 2010. Same-store sales fell by about a 1%. Indeed, same-store sales (generally considered the best indicator of a retailer's health) have been negative in four of the past five years, while net sales have been essentially flat (despite an increase in store count). Profitability has been problematic as well: in 2011 net income declined by about 43%, although the chain was still profitable. Cash flow however has declined dramatically over the past two years, falling to $2.2 million in 2011 from about $54 million in 2009.
Unseasonably warm winter weather also reduced sales of winter products (skis, parkas etc...) during the 2011 holiday selling, a critical period for any retailer. The warm weather has continued in 2012, and the company is working to adjust its merchandise mix to compensate for the lack of demand for winter gear.
In 2011 the company added eight stores (fewer than originally anticipated), after adding more than a dozen in 2010. While Big 5 plans to open about 10 new stores in 2012, it will shutter seven locations over the next two years. The company has slowed its expansion in response to tough economic conditions and the weak retail climate in its major markets. Big 5's strategy is to open smaller stores in locations (including small towns and big cities) that won't support the type of superstores operated by its rivals, such as Sports Authority or Cabelas.
The investment firm Stadium Capital Management is Big 5's largest shareholder with about a 15% share of the company's stock. Investment giant FMR LLC owns about 13%. – less