The impending closure of Sport Chalet will give competitors a better chance to swing at Southern California’s sporting goods market. But another regional player might not score an easy home run.
El Segundo’s Big 5 Corp. will face increased pressure from rivals such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, a Coraopolis, Penn.-based retailer that will likely strengthen its grasp on the L.A. market, analysts said.
¨I think the Sport Chalet bankruptcy is a tailor-made situation for Dick’s to come in and establish a huge presence in the California market, and so that’s not a positive development if you’re Big 5,” said John Horan, publisher of the Sporting Goods Intelligence newsletter.
Sport Chalet last week said it would close all 47 stores after parent company Vestis Retail Group of Meriden, Conn., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Vestis has said it would also shutter nine Eastern Mountain Sports and Bob’s Stores and sell its remaining properties to Philadelphia’s Versa Capital Management as part of the reorganization.
The closures come as other small regional players have pulled back from competition. Finish Line Inc. of Indianapolis announced that it will be closing 150 stores this year; Sidney, Neb.’s Cabela’s Inc. and Hibbett Sports Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., have also seen indications of slower growth, according to an April research report from Credit-Suisse.
“There’s an internet effect here that we are watching change the retail sector,” said Scott Burns, an executive vice president in the West L.A. office of commercial real estate brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., adding that the sector might consolidate further.
Still, Big 5 could benefit from a renewed opportunity to gain market share in Southern California.
The company, which has been based in Southern California since 1955, has managed to stay in the black while operating 439 stores, most in regional malls and shopping centers throughout the West. The company reported net income of $85.8 million for the quarter ended Jan. 3 on sales of $275 million. Net income was off less than a half-point from the year-ago quarter, when it posted sales of $250 million.
Company representatives did not return calls seeking comment.
“Big 5 arguably has a big opportunity,” said Joseph Feldman, a research analyst at New York’s Telsey Advisory Group.
If it can withstand a short-term hit on sales and earnings caused by liquidation sales at Sport Chalet, consumers will likely see incremental promotions and expanded advertising in the region by the company, Feldman added.
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