Yeti is leaving Lowe’s to focus on DTC and key wholesale accounts
Yeti has decided to end sales to Lowe’s after two years. The premium cooler and tumblers maker cited supply chain disruptions and a heightened focus on core wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels as motivating the move.
“To be clear, Lowe’s has been a great partner, and has worked closely with us as we have continuously experimented with how to best serve their customers and shopper patterns,” said Matt Reintjes, CEO, Thursday on Yeti’s fourth-quarter call. “As we have evaluated our growth areas, our focus and optimization mandate and the current supply constraints, we ultimately believe we can be more productive better serving our Yeti customers across our strong existing wholesale partnerships, our owned direct channels and our growing international opportunities.”
Yeti started rolling out to Lowe’s in late 2019 after seeing opportunity in the space. Mr. Reintjes said in October 2019, “Beyond the opportunity to intersect with additional consumers within home improvement, we were attracted to Lowe’s strong position in Pro, outdoor, and seasonal categories, areas that align with many of the pursuits that we support.”
By February 2020, Lowe’s head merchant Bill Boltz was calling out Yeti’s national rollout. He said on a quarterly call, “Our expanded product offering highlights our commitment to providing our customers with relevant, innovative, best-in-class products.”
Yeti’s DTC sales, however, have expanded to 60 percent of sales from 50 percent two years ago due to store expansion and accelerated e-commerce growth.
Supply chain challenges have had Yeti scrambling since fall 2020 to overcome inventory shortages amid elevated demand for its products.
Finally, Yeti has been instituting an “optimization” that includes trimming its wholesale base to approximately 3,000 independent accounts. Management made the move to improve merchandising and overall execution, including inventory allotments at key independents, regional players and national accounts such as Dick’s, Bass Pro and REI.
Mr. Reintjes said Lowe’s exit was in line with those optimization efforts. “Ultimately, it came down to: we’re going to focus on building the strength of our existing wholesale partners that have been with us that we had already kind of taken through the merchandising and the presentation and the cadence of how Yeti operates,” he said.
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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What would be the right and wrong reasons for Yeti to stop selling to Lowe’s? Do you think Yeti made the right call?