Wal-Mart Stores has acquired specialty outdoor retailer Moosejaw for an estimated $51 million cash deal that closed Tuesday (Feb. 13). The retail giant confirmed the news Wednesday (Feb. 15) in a blog on its website, just one month after Walmart sister company Jet.com acquired online footwear business ShoeBuy.
Moosejaw, founded in 1992 and headquartered in Madison Heights, Mich., is an omni-channel retailer with a large online presence and a small brick-and-mortar presence of 10 stores located throughout the Midwest and its home state of Michigan. Wal-Mart said Moosejaw will continue to operate as a standalone business and subsidiary of the retail giant.
Wal-Mart sees Moosejaw as another way the retailer can participate in the fastest growing online category of apparel and accessories, according to ComScore. The company noted in the blog post that the deal will help “gain the experience of another well-established e-commerce player, this time in the active outdoor category.”
Moosejaw CEO Eoin Comerford and his executive team and some 350 employees will continue to be based in Michigan and report to the Walmart U.S. e-commerce retail organization based in San Bruno, Calif. Aside from the talent, Wal-Mart also sees Moosejaw as a way to expand its relationships in the specialty apparel space. The retailer also cites Moosejaw’s adeptness in customer experience as a bonus in the deal as Wal-Mart seeks to enhance the customer experiences of its massive shopping base.
Not much is known about Moosejaw, but the retailer was recently mentioned among Internet Retailer’s 2017 “Hot 100” list for its design, a list that Walmart.com did not make its own right. Moosejaw carries more than 120,000 items from more than 400 brands, including Patagonia, The North Face and Marmot. Wal-Mart is keenly aware of this extensive assortment of apparel and outdoor gear used in hiking, climbing, swimming and biking, categories that are strong sellers online.
This is Wal-Mart’s third online acquisition in five months and Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala told the media the retailer will continue to look for acquisition opportunities, as well as push for organic growth as a key e-commerce strategy. During Wal-Mart’s third quarter, the company saw its e-commerce sales improve 20.6%, an improvement executives were eager to see. The retail giant will report its fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday (Feb. 21).
Analysts largely approve of buying approach Wal-Mart is taking to grow its market share against Amazon.com.
“Wal-Mart is aggressively building category-specific digital scale, pure and simple,” said Carol Spieckerman, CEO of Spieckerman Retail. “Its acquisition of Jet.com laid the foundation, now Walmart is free to roam the world in search of niche players, and the valuable user and shopper bases that come with them.”
Spieckerman also approved of Wal-Mart’s keeping these acquisitions somewhat separate from the mothership.
“As Wal-Mart racks up acquisitions, it also gathers steam in digital search as shoppers seek out specific categories and brands,” she said. “By keeping these entities at a bit of a distance, and leaving leadership and headquarters locations intact, Wal-Mart ensures that its brand doesn’t dilute the magic that these acquired companies have created. Expect more where this came from. Moosejaw is only the beginning.”