New products for fishing resulted in strong pre-season sales for Johnson Outdoors, boosting revenues for the first quarter of its new fiscal year, ended Dec. 31. The company, which owns a large portfolio of brands including Jetboil outdoor cooking systems and Scubapro diving equipment, saw its total sales gain 9.9 percent over the year-ago quarter to $93.7 million. Johnson posted a net income of $4.1 million, compared with a loss of $534,000 during the first quarter of the previous fiscal year.

While the first quarter is traditionally a slower sales period for the company, the management said that “innovation made all the difference” this quarter, as a new product lineup generated very strong preseason orders. In particular, advances in technology powered significant growth in the fishing segment, which was the shining star of the quarter, with sales jumping by 14.4 percent to $67.1 million. The company attributed a large part of this growth to new products for the Minn Kota brand, such as the new Ultrex and Ulterra trolling motors. Hummingbird also was a big contributor, largely due to the continued popularity of the Helix series fishfinder.

In the diving segment, revenues inched up 4.2 percent to $14.9 million, driven by improved performance in key markets in North America and Europe. New products drove higher sales, most notably the Hydros Pro buoyancy compensator, which enables divers to control depth during a dive. In the watercraft recreation segment, sales dipped by 2.5 percent to $6.2 million, with continued growth in Old Town being offset by lower sales of accessory brands, partly caused by a shift in the timing of orders.

In Johnson's camping segment, revenues fell by 9.2 percent to $5.7 million, as higher-than-normal retail inventories following last year's shortened camping season resulted in a shift in order patterns. However, Johnson said it experienced a strong last half of the current year's quarter, with inventory levels declining and orders steadily picking up steam. In particular, Jetboil continued to benefit from a strong response to innovations in the camp cookware category.

Meanwhile, the company worked to reposition the Eureka brand of tents against new emerging camping consumer targets. To this end, it has launched a new Eureka website which marks the beginning of the implementation of a company-wide “digital sophistication strategy” spanning from websites to social media and e-commerce.

Overall, the company's gross margin remained flat at 39.0 percent. Moving forward, Johnson said that it is heading into the new selling season with strong momentum and remains confident in its ability to deliver accelerated profitable long-term growth.