Walmart Stores(WMT) - Get Report said Wednesday, Feb. 15, that it had paid $51 million for private equity-backed outdoor gear retailer New Moosejaw as the company continues to refine its e-commerce operations.
Madison Heights, Mich.-based New Moosejaw operates 10 physical stores and a significant e-commerce presence. The deal closed on Monday, Feb. 13, Walmart said in a statement.
Walmart's latest purchase comes about a month after the retail giant's announcement that it its Jet.com unit had acquired footwear e-commerce company Shoebuy.com Inc. from Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp.(IAC) - Get Report for $70 million.
"Apparel and accessories is now the number one category for digital commerce, according to comScore, and we gain the experience of another well-established e-commerce player, this time in the active outdoor category," Walmart said. Further, the company's "expertise will help us further enhance our customer experience."
Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala said by phone that the company looks for "assortment or expertise" in assessing e-commerce acquisition opportunities, and noted that Moosejaw brings 25 years of experience and deep industry relationships in the sector. In turn, he said, Moosejaw's suppliers can access a "portfolio of e-commerce sites where they can figure out who they're trying to reach and where it makes more sense to sell."
Jet itself was acquired by Walmart last summer for $3.3 billion, a jolt to the company's e-commerce business. Shortly after the Shoebuy purchase, on Jan. 13, Jet co-founder and former CEO Marc Lore, now the CEO of Walmart's U.S. e-commerce division, combined the company's e-commerce operations into a single organization.
E-commerce is a priority for Walmart, which has lost ground to Amazon.com(AMZN) - Get Report and other upstarts. Jariwala said that Walmart.com's assortment of items has risen from 8 million in the beginning of 2016 to over 30 million today. To further compete with Amazon, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart on Jan. 31 unveiled free two-day shipping applicable to purchases of $35 or more of any of some 2 million offerings.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC analyst Christopher Horvers wrote Wednesday that the shipping move demonstrated Walmart's "unwilling[ness] to yield turf to AMZN."
In Walmart's third-quarter earnings report, on Nov. 17, the company disclosed e-commerce sales growth of 20.6% year-over-year, compared to total sales growth of 2.5%.
Lower middle market private equity firm Glencoe Capital LLC backed Moosejaw in late 2009 through its Michigan Opportunities Fund, which invested $10 million or more in companies with Ebitda above $3 million. Another lower middle market PE firm, Dallas' Parallel Investment Partners LP, backed Moosejaw in 2007.
Glencoe and Parallel did not respond to requests for comment. Moosejaw representatives could not be reached for comment.