The parent of Smith & Wesson has replaced its chief executive following misconduct allegations.
American Outdoor Brands, which owns an array of shooting, hunting and outdoor brands, said in a statement Wednesday that its board of directors found that James Debney had “engaged in conduct inconsistent with a non-financial company policy.” American Outdoor did not provide specifics about the policy or when the violation allegedly took place, and it did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
“We appreciate James’ contributions toward the growth and development of our company and its infrastructure,” Barry Monheit, chairman of the board, said in the statement.
Debney had been at the helm of American Outdoor and its predecessor company since 2011, expanding its portfolio through a slew of acquisitions. The firearms industry’s fortunes are typically a sign of the political climate: Sales surge when consumers fear an administration might usher in stricter gun laws. But revenue has slipped during the Trump era.
Springfield, Massachusetts-based American Outdoor plans to split into two publicly traded companies later this year, with one focusing on firearms and the other on outdoor goods. In November, American Outdoor announced that Debney would lead the outdoor products company after the spinoff.
Investors seemed unfazed by the corporate shake-up. American Outdoor’s stock was down roughly 0.2% after Thursday’s open.
American Outdoors named Mark Smith and Brian Murphy as joint CEOs. Smith has been president of the company’s manufacturing services unit while Murphy sat at the top of the outdoor products and accessories division, the company said. After the company splits, Murphy will lead the outdoor business and Smith will take over the gun operation. American Outdoor said the division is carrying on as planned.
CEO exits soared in 2019. In December, Steph Korey, co-founder of the luggage company Away, exited after an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace culture. The month before, McDonald’s’ Steve Easterbrook was removed as CEO and president after the fast food giant said he “demonstrated poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee.” Overstock CEO and found Patrick Byrne abruptly quit in August after claiming to have been involved in multiple FBI investigations and to have romanced Maria Butina – a flash point in the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election – causing company shares to tank.