Field & Stream store to send Dick's stores in new direction

| Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, 11:39 p.m.

A Field & Stream store opening on Friday in Cranberry would never be mistaken for a traditional Dick's Sporting Goods store. Its entrance features two stuffed bears clawing at each other on their hind legs.

The store is a company prototype that will target hunters, fishermen, campers and archers with an array of specialized gear. Like those bears, Dick's will square off against some fierce competitors.

The store is the latest sports-retailing concept from the Findlay-based company in an effort to grow revenue and expand its footprint to its stated goal of about 1,100 stores.

Dick's operates about 600 stores in 44 states, including 81 Golf Galaxy locations and two TrueRunner stores. It debuted a running-enthusiast concept last August in Shadyside.

“I can see them getting to 1,100 stores, especially if Field & Stream works,” said Sam Poser, an analyst for Sterne Agee & Leach Inc.

Dick's could grow by acquisition, Poser said. As it is, the company plans to add about 40 traditional stores this year. A second Field & Stream store will open in Kentucky in November and a third in Erie next year.

Dick's annual revenue grew to $5.8 billion last year from $5.2 billion in 2011, and most analysts think it could exceed $6.2 billion this year.

Yet sales have “been a bit soft” in recent quarters, said Sean Naughton, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.

Revenue in the fiscal first quarter ended May 4 rose 4 percent, but same-store sales declined 1.7 percent. Golf Galaxy sales fell 7.4 percent, which analysts attributed to unusually foul weather.

One advantage that differentiates Dick's from rivals is its strong relationships with brands consumers seek, analysts say. That is most evident with “store-within-a-store” concepts Dick's pushes, brand-designated areas inside retail locations.

Traditional Dick's stores have Nike Field House concept shops and Under Armour All-American shops.

“Stores with these stores-within-stores have higher returns on investment and sales per square foot, and the margins are better as well,” said Christopher Svezi, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group. The brands attract shoppers, and the goods-makers pay for remodeling and fixtures, Svezi said.

Dick's is sparring in a huge market for sporting goods, totaling $59.2 billion in sales last year, the National Sporting Goods Association says.

The market is fairly fragmented. Mass merchants account for 22 percent of sales; Dick's for 8.5 percent; and other sporting-goods retailers for 20 percent, according to First Research, Austin, Texas. The rest of the market, or roughly 50 percent, belongs to small, independent or regional players.

The Field & Stream stores will pit Dick's against Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's. If Dick's expands Field & Stream into underserved markets, “it's a huge opportunity” for growth, Poser said, because beyond the three outdoors-gear leaders “there's not much. So there is room for competition.”

There is the likelihood Dick's will compete with itself. Sales in Field & Stream stores could cost Dick's sales from its traditional stores, analysts say.

The retailer is counting on drawing sportsmen with the familiar Field & Stream name, for which the company acquired the intellectual property rights. The magazine by that name dates to 1871.

Outdoor enthusiasts such as Debbie Harmison of Jeannette go out of their way to find the right gear to hunt, fish and camp.

“I like to shop around because one store might have a gadget that another doesn't,” said Harmison, president of the Westmoreland County Sportsmen's League.

Thomas Olson is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7854 or

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