EMS CEO Steps Down

Two months after Eastern Mountain Sports was acquired by Versa Capital Management, the retailer’s CEO, Will Manzer, is leaving his post.

Versa announced Thursday it has formed a new retail platform, named Vestis Retail Group, that will merge both EMS and Bob’s Stores, which sells value-oriented footwear, apparel, work wear and accessories.

Mark Walsh, CEO of Bob’s, has been named CEO of Vestis, while Manzer has stepped down as CEO of EMS, effective immediately.

EMS, a 68-store outdoor retailer in 12 Eastern states, also is closing its distribution facility in Peterborough, N.H., and will consolidate with Bob’s existing distribution facility in Meriden, Conn. The moves are designed to improve EMS’ operating efficiency, inventory management and capacity to invest in the continued development and success of its brand, said Versa in a statement. It is understood there will be no store closures.

Versa acquired EMS in November for an undisclosed sum. The private equity firm based in Philadelphia is known for investing in distressed companies and has $1.2 billion worth of assets under management. Its portfolio also includes Avenue Stores, a plus-size apparel chain; and the Black Angus Steakhouses in the Western states.

“Versa’s investment and active involvement have enabled EMS to continue as an independent retailer with opportunities for future growth, building on our long tradition of success in the outdoor category,” said Manzer in a statement.

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