Sales declined at Easton-Bell Sports (EBS) for the financial year ended Dec. 28, but the American group's losses tapered down in the fourth quarter of the year. The annual turnover fell by 5.7 percent to $780.4 million, with declines of 5.5 percent to $435.7 million in Team Sports and 5.8 percent to $346.9 million in Action Sports.
The gross margin of the group rose by 0.4 percentage points to 34.5 percent, but operating earnings fell by 39.4 percent to $25.7 million and the company incurred a net loss of $19 million, up from $2.8 million. Currency conversions depressed the final result by $3.8 million.
In Team Sports, sales of Easton baseball and softball products – the business being sold to Bauer Performance Hockey – were higher than in the previous year, but Easton hockey products declined along with Riddell football helmets and other football products sold in the mass channel. The company is contemplating the sale of the Easton hockey business to a third party.
In Action Sports, the group sold more Giro snowsports products, Giro cycling shoes and Bell powersports helmets, but this was offset by a drop in cycling helmets and accessories as well as Easton cycling products, for which the company cited quality issues. The exit from the low-margin, non-core fitness segment contributed to the decline but was partly offset by the introduction of Giro cycling apparel. The division's gross margins improved to 32.0 percent from 31.6 percent.
In the fourth quarter, the group's sales were down by 6.4 percent to $171.8 million, and the gross margin fell to 31.4 percent from 31.7 percent in the year-earlier period, but the company booked an operating profit of $2.1 million against a loss of $5.3 million. The quarterly net loss declined to $4.4 million from $12.2 million.