Vista Outdoor: A Business Portfolio Under Stress
Vista Outdoor Inc. was a publicly traded company that competed in both Shooting Sports markets (e.g., firearms and ammunition) and Outdoor Products markets (e.g., hydration systems, sports helmets). Weak performance resulted in the initiation of a comprehensive strategic review of the company's business portfolio in November of 2017. This review was ongoing in February of 2018 when a 19-year-old former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with a semi-automatic AR-15 style rifle and killed 14 students and three educators. Surviving students at the school rallied the nation and asked for more action to prevent gun violence. On March 1, in response to customer petitions, both Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) and Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) announced they would stop ordering and stocking Vista Outdoor brands like CamelBak and Bell because the company also manufactured guns (including semi-automatic, AR-15 style rifles similar to the one used in the Parkland shooting) and because they didn't believe that Vista Outdoor was doing enough to advance the national conversation on responsible gun ownership. As the case concludes, students are put in the shoes of Vista Outdoor CEO Chris Metz who must decide how to respond to the actions taken by its retailers and whether the current national debate about guns and gun control should be factored into the ongoing strategic review of the company's business portfolio.