Cabela’s will retain some jobs in Sidney, Nebraska, but it’s still unclear how many will be lost after a letter sent to employees by the chief executive of the retailer’s new owner, Bass Pro Shops.
Bass also will keep open all of Cabela’s retail stores in Nebraska — in Sidney, Kearney and La Vista, according to the letter, which was obtained by The World-Herald.
Bass Pro Chief Executive Johnny Morris sent the 11-page document to employees in Sidney on Thursday. In it, Morris detailed some of the operations that will stay in Sidney as the combined Bass-Cabela’s consolidates its headquarters in Bass’ hometown of Springfield, Missouri.
The letter didn’t say how many jobs would be cut in Sidney, the city of about 6,800 where Cabela’s has employed 2,000 people in recent years. A Bass Pro spokesman wouldn’t comment on potential job cuts when contacted Thursday by The World-Herald. The spokesman said Morris visited Sidney on Wednesday and met with Cabela’s employees.
What will stay? Bass said Thursday in its letter that it will keep Cabela’s information technology division, which employs 125 people. The letter says “significant” accounting operations also will remain in Sidney, although it didn’t say what operations or how many people the division would employ. The distribution center in Sidney also will remain.
The document said the company is continuing to work on evaluating which jobs will stay in Sidney, which ones will stay in Springfield and which ones need to be eliminated.
“One of our biggest priorities is to be as thoughtful to Cabela’s outfitters and the City of Sidney as we possibly can, and go above and beyond what is required to be very fair and supportive,” the document said.
Outside of Sidney, the company’s credit card operation in Lincoln will remain, according to the letter, along with call centers in Grand Island, Kearney, North Platte and Lincoln. The call centers employ approximately 350 people, the document said.
Some employees, however, will lose their jobs, according to the letter. It said that those employees will receive severance and that Bass Pro has allocated an additional $10 million to extend benefits and pay for employees who will be displaced.
The company has hired Career Arc, an outplacement firm, to help employees who might need to relocate and find new work. The company, in the document, said it’s also pondering establishing an early retirement package.
Employees in Sidney will be consolidated into one of the Cabela’s office buildings.
The document said empty buildings on the Cabela’s campus will “effectively be donated” by Bass Pro Shops to the City of Sidney. Bass will lease them for $1 per year to any qualified businesses that may want to open an operation in Sidney, the document said.
The company also detailed what staff will occupy some senior leadership positions in the new combined company. Of the 12 positions listed, three will be employees from Cabela’s who will relocate to Springfield.
Ralph Castner, who had been Cabela’s chief financial officer, will serve as CFO for the combined company in Springfield; Sarah Kaiser, who worked in human resources at Cabela’s, will become senior vice president of human resources for the combined company; and Sheila Dormann, a Cabela’s employee for 17 years, will become vice president of finance for White River Marine Group, one of Bass Pro’s subsidiaries.
Bass Pro completed its $5 billion acquisition of Cabela’s in September.
In the letter Thursday, Morris thanked employees and said he hoped they take pride in their personal contributions to building iconic brands.
Still, the last page of the letter detailed “the realities of a competitive retail market and challenging outdoor/hunting segment.”
Morris said more than 1,000 outdoors-related stores have closed in recent years. He called out Cabela’s specifically, noting that the retailer’s sales had been in decline since 2013 and that its retail business was on track to lose money in 2017.
And research by Mercer, a human resources consultant, highlighted that Cabela’s had more layers of management than similar companies, according to the letter, in part because it was a publicly traded company.
Cabela’s “has been operating under the weight of an extremely heavy corporate payroll that is over two times greater than that of Bass Pro Shops to conduct relatively the same volume of business,” Morris said in the letter.
“It is now time for a new approach and to turn around the strategies that did not work,” Morris said.
He signed the cover letter to the document, “Respectfully and with Great Optimism!”