No end in sight to Cabela’s expansion plans

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Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 12:00 am

Sidney, Neb.-based Cabela’s plans to ramp up its new store construction over the next several years.

The company, which plans to open 14 new stores this year – 11 U.S. stores and three Canada locations – wants to continue a similar pace through 2017, each year adding 12 U.S. stores and two Canada locations.

The plans were outlined Wednesday as part of the outdoor outfitter’s Analyst and Investor Day activities. Cabela’s also recapped last year’s retail results. The Sidney event drew about 50 people.

Last year, the company opened 10 stores, and it currently operates 51 in North America.

Cabela’s expects to add about 1 million square feet of retail space annually for the next three to five years, said Ralph Castner, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

To encourage new and return patronage, the company also plans to increase the number of local store-sponsored activities, in particular focusing on events for women and youths, Castner said.

Participants also got a glimpse of the company’s latest merchandise.

“We demonstrated a bunch of new products,” Castner said.

Cabela’s officials said they would be pleased if same-store sales, or sales at locations open at least a year, showed consistent increases of between 2 percent and 4 percent.

The company experienced dramatic same-stores sales increases the last three months of 2012 and the first six months of 2013, a result of skyrocketing sales of firearms and ammunition, a national trend that began in late 2012 and continued through fall 2013.

The boom in guns and ammunition sales fell sharply in the fourth quarter of 2013, resulting in a 10.1 percent decline in Cabela’s comparable store sales, but the surge introduced new customers to Cabela’s. “They saw the products we carry and are becoming new, good customers,” Castner said.

The Cabela’s Club Card remains a “very important part of our business,” Castner said. “We expect to be able to grow that business at a low teens rate for years.” Cabela’s Club Visa can be used at Cabela’s stores as well as establishments that accept Visa.

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