September '20

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140 • RV PRO • September 2020 rv-pro.com states, has slowed its streak of acquisitions – at least for now. Camping World was the acquiring party in 13 of the 14 dealership purchases made in 2017, according to data from investment banking firm Baird. How- ever, Camping World's pace of acquisi- tions slowed to four acquisitions in 2018 and just one in 2019, according to Baird. Camping World has not made any acqui- sitions thus far this year. In an interview with the Bowling Green (Ky.) Daily News at the end of 2019, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis stated, "We are always looking to grow our RV platform. We've made a number of acquisitions, but 2020 is really about executing what we already have." To get a sense of the extent to which Camping World, Lazydays and private dealer groups are driving acquisitions in the dealer segment, one only has to look at the numbers, as tracked by Baird. (Note: The RV Dealers Association and the RV Industry Association do not spe- cifically track dealer-related mergers and acquisitions.) In its report, "North American M&A Activity and the RV Market," issued in January, Baird recorded 45 acquisitions of RV dealerships between 2015 and 2019 (see Figure 1 on page 139). Of those deals, Camping World, Campers Inn, Family RV Group, Lazydays and RV Retailer were the acquiring company in all but four of those deals, according to Baird data. "Acceleration in M&A activity (is) being driven by the growth of major retail/ dealership chains," the Baird report states. At the same time, privately-owned RV dealerships still far outnumber private and public dealer consolidators. For context sake, 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows there were 2,165 RV deal- ership firms in 2017 (a figure that includes multi-location dealerships being counted as one firm). Even if each of the 250 stores owned by the six dealer consolidators (see Figure 2 at right) mentioned in this article were counted individually, that would still account for less than 20 percent of total U.S. RV dealerships. RV Retailer Optimistic Outlook For his part, RV Retailer's Ferrando says he sees plenty of opportunities for Camping World currently operates 150 stores across the U.S., including this one outside of Longmont, Colo. The company has been a significant acquirer of independent dealerships in the past five years. the dealership to grow its business in 2020 and beyond. "We plan to continue growing all aspects of our business. In addition to increasing sales, we are executing on a plan to signifi- cantly increase our service, parts, and colli- sion business, with most of it coming from customer pay," he says. "This will provide better customer service after sale and allow us to build a strong, long-term relationship with the customer. We are also building out major investments in training and devel- opment for our management teams, future leaders, and associates in key roles like sales and service." While RV Retailer launched at the start of an industry downturn – and while this year's prospects for the RV market remain cloudy – Ferrando sees plenty of reason for optimism. "We view it as an excellent time to step into the RV industry," he says. "The long- term demographics are strong, with 10,000 Baby Boomers a day retiring over the next decade and many Millennials adopting the RV lifestyle. When you combine this with the OEMs producing appealing products, the outlook is bright." Figure 2 Dealer Group Store Numbers Dealership Group # Stores* Camping World ...................... 150 RV Retailer .................................33 Campers Inn ............................. 30 Blue Dog RV ...............................17 Family RV Group .......................12 Lazydays ........................................9 * Details current as of Aug. 15 Source: Public data

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