Vista Outdoor to lay off workers, close Bell/Giro facility in Scotts Valley

Vista Outdoor Inc. logo (PRNewsFoto/Vista Outdoor Inc.)
(Via Vista Outdoor)

Cycling-focused Giro and Bell Sports are among the brands being consolidated under Vista’s outdoor sporting goods operation at Fox Racing headquarters in Irvine. The number of local layoffs is unclear, though one employee wrote on LinkedIn that she was among “several hundred” affected.

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The Scotts Valley facility that’s been home to Bell Sports and Santa Cruz-founded Giro Sport Design is set to close later this year as parent company Vista Outdoor moves to consolidate its outdoor sporting goods and actionwear operations in Southern California.

In a March 31 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Vista Outdoor said it intended to close the Scotts Valley facility on Sept. 1, and that layoffs are underway amid a $50 million cost reduction. The brands’ remaining jobs will be relocated to a new space within the current Fox Racing headquarters in Irvine.

In a statement to Lookout, Vista Outdoor President Jeff McGuane confirmed that the teams will be united in Irvine, where the Fox offices will be revamped into a new center for all of the conjoining workforces “while honoring each brand’s culture and ethos, which are unique, valued and untouchable.”

McGuane added that the move is vital for the future of the companies.

“This transformation will enable deeper investments in product, brand and market development that are absolutely critical to strengthening our iconic brands and winning with riders in this new era,” he said.

The company did not respond to questions about the number of layoffs in Scotts Valley.

In a post on LinkedIn, Bell Helmets’ head of global marketing, SJ Owen, wrote: “Last week, myself and several hundred colleagues were laid off as Bell Helmets (and Giro, Camelbak, other Vista Outdoor brands etc) are absorbed into the Fox Racing organization. The few that remain have been given an option to relocate to Irvine.”

Vista purchased Bell, Giro and other brands from BRG Sports in 2016 for $400 million. At the time of the sale, about 150 employees worked at the Scotts Valley location. Bell and Giro make bike helmets, goggles and other sportswear.

Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce CEO Casey Beyer said that while the move is a big shakeup for the industry, it’s not a terribly unusual business decision for companies to consolidate operations, particularly after acquiring a competing business. Vista acquired Fox Racing, which makes extreme sports and lifestyle apparel, for $540 million last August.

“When larger companies create these subsidiaries, they will look for ways that they can maximize those profits,” Beyer said. “And for them, it’s probably not financially feasible to keep this smaller facility up here when they can consolidate.”

Beyer added that a similar sequence of events happened with Santa Cruz-based audio communications company Plantronics. It acquired the telecommunication company Polycom in 2019 and changed its name to Poly. Then, in August 2022, Hewlett-Packard acquired Poly in a $3.3 billion deal. Many Poly employees switched to a hybrid work model.

“Large corporations come in, see the value of these smaller companies, and figure that the best way to maximize value is to acquire that company,” Beyer said. “That’s the nature of the business community.”

Although Poly no longer exists in Santa Cruz, Joby, the Santa Cruz-based aviation company specializing in electric air taxis, purchased Poly’s old headquarters in November.

Headquartered in Minnesota, Vista Outdoor is a major manufacturer of both outdoor sporting goods and one of the country’s largest manufacturers of ammunition. Vista CEO Christopher Metz resigned in February after the company released a disappointing earnings report. The company said it has struggled with “elevated retail inventory levels, rising interest rates and inflation” that have affected consumer demand.


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