At a meeting at the Cabela’s headquarters in Sydney, NE, Johnny Morris, CEO and founder of Bass Pro, said Bass Pro’s acquisition of Cabela’s would result in “some slimming down.” But he reassured employees that the merged company would retain a significant amount of operations in the city and the overall state of Nebraska, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
“Not that there’s not going to be change,” Morris said, according to a recording obtained by the Omaha World-Herald. “Not that there’s not going to be some consolidation, but we plan to have jobs here – important, significant jobs.”
In announcing its plans to acquire Cabela’s last week, Bass Pro said it “intends to continue to maintain important bases of operations in Sydney and Lincoln and hopes to continue the very favorable connections to those communities and the Cabela’s team members residing there.”
Some local officials in Nebraska have expressed concerns about Bass Pro’s commitment to the region.
The World-Herald said the meeting with about 300 employees was held on Tuesday morning. Morris held two meetings overall in Sydney with a small group of employees who were selected by lottery to attend. On Monday, he held a meeting in Lincoln, where the company operates the Cabela’s Club credit card.
A Bass Pro spokesperson confirmed to the Springfield News-Leader that Bass Pro has committed to keeping open Cabela’s Nebraska call centers in Grand Island, Kearney and North Platte. Capital One, which has agreed to acquire the Cabela’s credit card operation as part of the deal, has pledged to maintain operations in Lincoln.
At the meeting, Morris said he expects Cabela’s hunting and camping merchandise to be added into Bass Pro’s stores, while Bass Pro fishing and boating gear will be featured in Cabela’s existing stores.
“What’s going to separate us more, we think, from competition is by having one outlet for these great national brands,” he reportedly said.
Morris also said he expects the Cabela’s and Bass Pro brands will be combined. He mentioned that the Cabela’s signage could be added to the exterior of Bass Pro Shops, although a spokesperson told the World Herald that other ideas were being explored as well.
Morris also remarked that the two retailers first explored a merger about a decade ago, about the time Cabela’s underwent its initial public offering, and again in 2009 shortly after current Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner assumed his post.
Morris also said he never talked to Elliott Management, the New York-based hedge fund that had pushed for changes at Cabela’s that ultimately led to the merger.