Matt Buckingham, president of Smith & Wesson’s firearms division, resigned last week, according to regulatory documents filed Nov. 24 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Buckingham said he would step down from his top role at the prolific handgun manufacturer effective Dec. 8 to “pursue other interests.”
Smith & Wesson’s holding company — American Outdoor Brands, of which Buckingham serves as senior vice president — said in financial documents CEO James Debney would fulfill the role in the meantime.
The rugged outdoors conglomerate counts Smith & Wesson as its top-earner in a portfolio of more than two dozen brands including Gemtech, Crimson Trace, Bubba Blade and Old Timer.
Buckingham joined Smith & Wesson’s executive management team in April 2016 after more than a decade at the helm of Brownells. In the 18 months since, gun makers and retailers alike have weathered a volatile sales market reacting to competing political pressures.
From the heights of the industry’s biggest year ever pre-election to the lows of a historically weak summer, exacerbated by rock bottom prices and excess inventory, profits are down across the industry.
American Outdoor Brands reported a $2.2 million first quarter loss in September. Debney, in part, blamed stifled demand after President Donald Trump secured a surprise electoral victory last year. Revenue in the firearms sector fared far worse, declining by nearly half.
“While these conditions may be challenging in the short-term they are not new to us,” Debney told investors in September as he predicted a stronger earnings for the company in the later half of the fiscal year. “Now there is always risk. I can’t predict the future. I’ve got a crystal ball that’s not that great sometimes. So as we think about September, October and November, those are three key data points for adjusted NICS checks that will really tell us the strength of the return of the shopper.”
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Buchanan said AOBC expects annual earnings of no more than $740 million — far behind the record-breaking $903 million raked in last year.
Second quarter financial earnings will be released Dec. 7.