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Eastern Mountain Sports cuts 110 Peterborough jobs

Union Leader Correspondent

February 01. 2013 2:09PM

PETERBOROUGH – Half of Eastern Mountain Sports 220-person workforce in Peterborough have lost their jobs in a move by new parent company Versa Capital Management, LLC that shuttered the EMS distribution center this week.

"Today's developments at EMS will have no impact on the company's existing stores, which remain fully operational. EMS continues to employ approximately 130 people in its stores in New Hampshire, as well as over another 1,000 people in its stores outside of New Hampshire, and EMS will continue to employ approximately 110 people in Peterborough, primarily those who work in the retailer's customer-facing operations," Versa said in a press release Thursday.

In November, EMS was acquired by Philadelphia-based private equity investment firm Versa. Versa said at the time that no major initiatives were to be considered until the company finished the holiday season.

On Thursday, the company announced it was closing the distribution center and several other back-office support functions in Peterborough, affecting 110 employees.

The layoffs are part of the creation of Vestis Retail Group, LLC, a new retail platform that comprises two retailers owned by Versa: Bob's Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports.

"EMS is the second largest U.S. multi-channel retailer of human-powered outdoor sports apparel and equipment. Bob's sells value-oriented footwear, apparel, work wear and accessories. As part of Vestis, Bob's and EMS will share certain operational functions and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, but will remain separate and distinct retail brands in stores, merchandise and online," Versa said.

Mark Walsh, CEO of Bob's and a Versa Principal, has been named CEO of Vestis. EMS CEO Will Manzer has stepped down effective immediately, but will serve as a consultant to Walsh during a transitional period.

"The steps we have taken at EMS are difficult ones, but we believe they are in the best long-term interests of the business," Walsh said in the press release. "We thank all EMS employees for their hard work and dedication, and we are committed to supporting the affected employees in seeking new opportunities both within and outside of the company. Will's product and industry knowledge are superior, and he will be of great help to me as I work with the EMS team to ensure the strength of the EMS brand with outdoor enthusiasts.

"The Vestis platform will enable us to improve the operations of Bob's and EMS while growing each business independently with separate customer and brand strategies."

According to Versa, the capitalization and working capital requirements of Vestis will be supported by a new $95 million revolving credit facility provided by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

The Vestis platform has over 3,200 employees and nearly $500 million in revenue both online and through over 100 stores in 12 eastern states.

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