Private equity firm Versa Capital Management has created Vestis Retail Group, a retail platform that comprises the group’s two retailers: Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), cutting approximately 110 roles.
As part of Vestis, the two brands will share certain operational functions and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, but will remain separate and distinct retail brands in stores, merchandise and online.
Mark Walsh, CEO of Bob’s and a Versa principal has been named CEO of Vestis, inclusive of EMS, Will Manzer has stepped down as CEO of EMS, effective immediately and will serve as a consultant to Walsh during a transitional period. Garry Herdler will become CFO of Vestis.
EMS is set to close its distribution facility and several other back-office support functions in Peterborough, N.H. It will maintain its merchandising, product design, call center and web operations in Peterborough, and its climbing, paddle and outdoor schools in New England.
Vestis said the moves are designed to improve EMS’ operating efficiency, inventory management and capacity to invest in the continued development and success of its brand. Distribution will be consolidated within Bob’s existing distribution facility in Meriden, Conn.
These changes are set to commence immediately and will be finalized over the next five months.
Approximately 110 EMS employees will be affected, and Vestis said it is ready to support affected employees with work fairs and job placement opportunities, both within the company and externally.
“The steps we have taken at EMS are difficult ones, but we believe they are in the best long-term interests of the business,” said Walsh.
“We thank all EMS employees for their hard work and dedication, and we are committed to supporting the affected employees in seeking new opportunities both within and outside of the company. Will’s product and industry knowledge are superior, and he will be of great help to me as I work with the EMS team to ensure the strength of the EMS brand with outdoor enthusiasts. The Vestis platform will enable us to improve the operations of Bob’s and EMS while growing each business independently with separate customer and brand strategies.”
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