2019 was filled with stories of success and failure across the active lifestyle marketplace, but it was SGB’s coverage of sporting goods retailers Academy Sports + Outdoors, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Bass Pro Shops, Modell’s and the now-defunct Sports Authority that dominated the most-read list.

Topping the 25 most-read editorials this year, however, was a look at the financial trouble at Mad Dogg Athletics. The company—whose business segments include Spinning, Peak Pilates, CrossCore, Resist-a-ball, and UGI—filed for bankruptcy in August.

Other notable stories included the ongoing issues at Academy, big changes at VF Corp, Nike ending its relationship with Amazon, active lifestyle trends among teens, market-altering M&A deals, and our conversations with the industry’s most important executives. Companies such as Fanatics, Thule, Columbia, Asics, Champion, and Alterra also made appearances.

Here are SGB’s most-read stories from 2019:

  1. Mad Dogg Athletics Lands In Bankruptcy Court
    Mad Dogg Athletics, one of the pioneers of the indoor cycling craze, filed for bankruptcy protection. The move followed three years of revenue declines that culminated in a loss in 2018 caused by a dispute over the termination of its Bodyblade license agreement.
  2. Academy’s Struggles Continued In 2018
    Moody’s Investors Service confirmed the debt ratings and outlook of Academy Ltd., the parent of Academy Sports & Outdoors, while also indicating that the retailer’s financial performance continued to erode.
  3. Q+A With Academy Sports + Outdoors’ CEO Ken Hicks
    Ken Hicks earned credit for stabilizing Foot Locker Inc. and setting it back on a path toward growth. Now, Hick’s looks to do the same for Academy Sports + Outdoors. Hicks spoke to SGB Executive about what makes Academy unique in the marketplace, the progress being made on repositioning efforts and the chain’s financial stability.
  4. Fanatics Seeking To Expand On Online Marketplaces
    At a session at the NRF Big Show in New York City, Michael Rubin, founder and executive chairman of Fanatics, said the company would generate $2.7 billion to $2.8 billion in revenue in 2019 and also indicated that the company’s next major revenue model would be selling on online marketplaces.
  5. What Does Nike’s Exit From Amazon Mean?
    Nike’s move to stop selling footwear and apparel directly through Amazon was apparently an admission that the art of policing Amazon’s third-party sellers was becoming more challenging as the marketplace continues to grow, but it also reinforced Nike’s ambition to directly connect with consumers.
  6. Sporting Goods’ Purge: Where Did They Land?
    The liquidation of Sports Authority and other retail closures and mega-mergers over the last few years led to many executives finding new jobs inside and outside the industry. See where many landed.
  7. Ten Active-Lifestyle Takeaways From Piper Jaffray’s Teen Survey
    Vans and Lululemon crushed it with teens. Nike and Adidas plateaued while Under Armour and Supreme appeared to be losing ground, but athletic apparel and footwear categories overall continued to grow in appeal with teens, according to Piper Jaffray’s 37th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens survey.
  8. Snipes Takes On U.S. Market
    Earlier this year, German-based streetwear retailer Snipes acquired KicksUSA to mark its entry into U.S. retailing. Sven Voth, founder and managing director, spoke with SGB Executive about the reason for the acquisition and Snipes’ plans for the U.S. market.
  9. Why Dick’s Unloaded Eight Field & Stream Locales
    Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. took another important step in the ongoing “strategic review of its hunt business” by selling eight Field & Stream stores to Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc. for $28 million. SGB looks at how the deal affected each company.
  10. Bass Pro Appoints Mike McDermott As New President
    Bass Pro Shops said Michael P. McDermott, a former executive at the Lowe’s home-improvement chain, replaced Jim Hagale as president. McDermott will guide the next phase of the integration of Bass Pro and Cabela’s and accelerate the outdoor retailer’s omnichannel efforts.
  11. Nexgen Outfitters Steps Out Of Cabela’s Shadow
    Six former Cabela’s employees are running the startup outdoor gear seller Nexgen Outfitters Inc. in Sidney, NE, where Cabela’s had been headquartered before being acquired by Bass Pro Shops. With the recent expiration of a non-compete injunction, the online provider feels a surge of momentum.
  12. More On Camping World’s Pivot Away From Outdoor Retail
    Camping World Holdings Inc. put outdoor retail in the rear-view mirror and set its sights on selling only recreational vehicles and accessories—even as the RV market sputters along.
  13. Conversation With Sportsman’s Warehouse CEO Jon Barker
    From market-shifting acquisitions to doubling down on the sales of firearms and ammunition, a lot has happened at Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc., the Midvale, UT-based sporting goods retailer. We spoke with CEO Jon Barker about these topics and more.
  14. Alterra CMO Erik Forsell Talks Ikon Pass Success, Industry Consolidation And More
    Erik Forsell, Alterra Mountain Co.’s chief marketing officer, spoke with SGB at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show about a range of topics including Ikon Pass usage trends, if Alterra measures itself against Vail Resorts, ongoing resort consolidation, and how industry stakeholders could help drive ski/snowboard participation.
  15. Modell’s Fight For Survival
    In an interview with SGB Executive, Mitch Modell, CEO of Modell’s Sporting Goods discussed the retailer’s frantic outreach efforts to save the company following reports of a possible bankruptcy filing. Plans to further stabilize and improve the business were also detailed.
  16. VF Maps Growth Plans For Three ‘Emerging’ Brands
    Smartwool, Icebreaker and Napapijri aren’t the largest assets in VF Corp.’s $12 billion portfolio, combining for about $600 million in annual sales, but the company has big plans for the “emerging” brands including each one hitting double-digit growth over the next five years to reach $1 billion together.
  17. Consumers Willing To Pay Up For Sustainability
    According to CGS 2019 U.S. Consumer Sustainability Survey, more than two-thirds of Americans consider sustainability when making a purchase and are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Gen Z shoppers led the way with 68 percent having made an eco-friendly purchase in the past year.
  18. Asics Resets Americas Team After Another Challenging Year
    Following a year of double-digit declines, Asics America Group (AAG) reported that Koichiro Kodama would replace Gene McCarthy as CEO of the region in a broad management overhaul.
  19. Why Is Champion Winning Again?
    Champion, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019, has been on a roll over the last two years. David Robertson, director Champion Brand Marketing, discusses the brand’s extensive “100 Years for the Team” anniversary campaign, its decision to open full-price stores and enter the premium footwear category, and what is driving Champion’s momentum.
  20. Thule Unveils Global Rollout Plans For Tepui
    Thule Group AB’s $9.5 million acquisition of rooftop tent maker Tepui Outdoors Inc. last December gave the Swedish company quick entry into the booming category of Overlanding without the time and energy needed to expand organically. Now that the integration is complete, Thule sheds additional light on the company’s global plans for its newest asset.
  21. Fanatics And Nike Increase Domination of Sports Licensing
    With deals with Wal-Mart and Major League Baseball (MLB) respectively, Fanatics and Nike continue to take bigger chunks of the fan apparel pie.
  22. Behind Columbia Sportswear’s ‘Shift’ Toward Footwear
    Columbia Sportswear Co. notched an earnings and revenue beat in the second quarter but Tim Boyle, the company’s president and CEO, was even more excited about what’s to come in the second half of the year—the company’s focus on footwear.
  23. Checking In On VF Corp.’s Denver Relocation
    While VF Corp. executives spent a great deal of time discussing the company’s impressive first quarter, including standout performances from Vans and The North Face, recent transformation efforts were also discussed. And now that the spinoff of Kontoor Brands is complete, VF’s focus is squarely on its ongoing and massive relocation to Denver.
  24. Newell Brands Embarking On Final Wave Of Divestitures
    Shares of Newell Brands Inc. dropped $4.53, or 20.9 percent, to $17.16 at market close after the company reported a sharp decline in fourth-quarter operating earnings as it absorbed a $157 million impairment charge. Revenues declined 6 percent to $2.3 billion, missing Wall Street’s target by $90 million.
  25. Dispatch From Denver: Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Takeaways
    This year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market was marked by change, but the spirit of uniting the industry remained the same. SGB reported on the business trends and themes culled from walking the show floor.

Photo courtesy Mad Dogg Athletics