BowFlex Files for Bankruptcy as Taiwanese Company Enters $37.5M Stalking Horse Bid

Courtesy of BowFlex
A BowFlex home fitness system.

More than 202 employees of the Vancouver-based fitness equipment firm have been notified of potential layoffs, but many details are uncertain .

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Vancouver-based BowFlex Inc., a global manufacturer and distributor of fitness equipment, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a New Jersey court on Tuesday.

The company has also entered into a $37 million purchase agreement with Johnson Health Tech, a Taiwanese company whose portfolio includes several health-oriented brands, the Portland Business Journal reported Tuesday.

About 202 Clark County employees have been notified they may be laid off, according to a state filing. A company spokesperson confirmed that number and said it is nearly half the company’s workforce.

The move comes after the company announced there was “substantial doubt” it could continue to sustain itself financially in its 10-Q filing with the Security and Exchange Commission at the end of last year.  

The company reported $139 million in direct segment net sales for the 2023 fiscal year, which ended in March 2023. While that was a 16% increase from the last fiscal year before the pandemic, overall net sales were down 19.2% from the same period.

This fiscal year, the company has posted losses every quarter. The company’s press release announcing the bankruptcy filing pointed to a challenging retail environment, worsening macroeconomic conditions and a decline in demand which has resulted in significant revenue loss compared with last year.

Johnson Health Tech has entered a “stalking horse” agreement — an initial bid on the assets of a bankrupt company — to acquire all BowFlex’s assets for $37,500,00.

BowFlex spokesperson Annie Thompson told Oregon Business noted that other companies will have the opportunity to bid on the company’s assets, which means many details — including the number of employees who will lose their jobs — are still up in the air.

“While they’ve announced Johnson Health Tech to be the stalking bidder and enter into this purchase agreement with them as part of the Chapter 11 process, that process allows for other interested parties to submit competing offers for the company,” Thompson says. “So ultimately, whoever ends up being the buyer of the company’s assets — which we won’t know until mid  to late April — will decide how many employees they want to hire,” said Thompson.

Thompson said the company was not answering any other questions outside of the information contained in the press release.

BowFlex was founded in 1986 to sell a patented strength training systems. The company went through a number of name changes and mergers in the 1990s, acquiring the fitness brand Nautilus as well as the Schwinn and StairMaster brands between 1999 and 2002. The company went public in 1999 and changed its name to Nautilus Inc. in 2005.

In May 2023, the company sold the Nautilus trademark and licenses for $13 million. Later that year, the company changed its name back to BowFlex amid threats of delisting by the New York Stock Exchange as share prices dipped below $1.