DENVER, CO (BRAIN)—It was a “bittersweet” moment for the Gart family knowing that their long and successful run as Colorado sports retailers, including five Bicycle Village locations, had officially come to an end.
Vail Resorts, Inc. purchase for $31 million of the family’s 30-percent share in Specialty Sports Venture (SSV), and their 145 sports retail outlets, means the end to an 82-year retail run. The Garts’ had management control after the family and Vail Resorts merged their retail holdings in 1998. But the Garts’ had been slowly selling off portions of their equity the last several years, with the original agreement stating that eventually Vail Resorts would purchase all the equity.
“To say it is a ‘bittersweet’ feeling seems to be a gross understatement,” said Ken Gart, president of SSV, in a letter to employees. “Working with everyone at SSV, sharing my passion for the company and for skiing and biking, along with other gear we sell, has been one of the most gratifying things in my life.”
Taking over a leadership role for SSV will be Kat Jobanputra, a 20-year veteran of SSV and current executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jobanputra and 52 other corporate retail employees will be relocated from their current headquarters in Denver to Vail Resorts’ headquarters in Broomfield, Colorado, in the fall of 2010. The Gart family will continue to own Gart Properties and Gart Capital Partners, owner of the Denver Pavilions retail center and several other commercial properties.
"Ken and Tom Gart have been terrific partners with our company for over 12 years and have been largely responsible for the incredible growth and performance of Specialty Sports Venture over that time period," said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “While our agreement calls for the partnership with Tom and Ken to come to an end, their contribution to building SSV will live on under the strong leadership of Kat Jobanputra. Operations at all of the SSV owned retail and rental outlets will continue in the ordinary course and customers will continue to see the same premier level of service as they did prior to the acquisition."
Ken Gart said in the letter to employees that SSV is in very capable hands with Jobanputra at the helm and Vail Resorts in control. “Kat will develop a new structure of leadership which will continue the high standards we’ve enjoyed for 16 years,” Gart said. “Vail Resorts and its leadership will bring a wealth of expertise and resources to continue to grow the retail and rental business.”
SSV has more than 145 retail/rental locations specializing in sporting goods including, ski, snowboard, golf and cycling equipment. The SSV portfolio of retail and rental outlets including Bicycle Village, Colorado Ski & Golf and a number of slope side shops in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Aspen, Telluride and other Colorado mountain communities. They also operate shops at Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe, in Park City, Utah, and Salt Lake City, and the Any Mountain shops in the San Francisco Bay area. SSV also owns and operates www.rentskis.com, North America's largest ski rental Web site and the equipment provider for online travel Web sites such as Travelocity.com, Expedia.com, Orbitz.com and Ski.com.