Walmart is buying Moosejaw, a company based here that specializes in outdoor recreation apparel and gear, in a bid to strengthen the global retail juggernaut's online offerings for $51 million in cash, the companies announced Wednesday.
Walmart (WMT) said it will continue to operate the website and 10 stores for Moosejaw, known for its quirky, cutting-edge marketing, as a standalone site and separate retail outlets. Employees will remain in Michigan.
Over the long term, Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Ark., hopes to leverage the privately held Michigan retailer's online sales knowledge and marketing of apparel and accessories and aims to open opportunities for Moosejaw suppliers to expand their reach on Walmart sites. But the company does not plan to sell Moosejaw-branded merchandise in Wal-Mart stores.
Walmart, which has more than 11,000 stores, has been focusing on growing online sales, which has included a buying spree of online outlets in the past year to boost its e-commerce portfolio and compete with retailers such as Amazon.
Walmart, whose stock was down 14 cents to $68.53, is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday.
Last year, Walmart bought Jet, a Hoboken, N.J., start-up, which seeks to offer online shoppers items that few retailers offer, for about $3 billion in cash and $300 million in Walmart shares. Walmart said the two company websites — Walmart.com and Jet.com — would operate as separate brands but would leverage technology and talent.
Moosejaw, which now has about 350 employees, was founded at 1992 by long-time friends Robert Wolfe and David Jaffe. Chairman Ken Nisch of JGA, a Southfield, Mich., consulting firm estimated that 80% to 85% of Moosejaw's sales are online. He said, “Moosejaw is considered to be a pioneer, early adapter of social marketing. It's not a huge company, which makes it interesting from Walmart's standpoint.”