Sports Direct acquires European interests

Bargain retailer Sports Direct has bought majority shares in rival sporting goods retailers in Austria and the Baltic region.

Bargain retailer Sports Direct has bought majority shares in rival sporting goods retailers in Austria and the Baltic region.

The purchases will be funded from existing cash and bank facilities and represent a continuation of the group's previously stated European expansion plans, said Chief Executive Dave Forsey.

Sports Direct has bought a 51% equity share in Austrian family owned retailer Sports Ebyl & Sports Experts (EAG) for €10.5m plus an agreed €30m investment in the business.

During the next five years, the FTSE 250 group will have the right to acquire the remaining shares in EAG for €15.5m, while the current owners also have the right to offload their remaining shares to Sports Direct for €5m.

In the Baltics, the group acquired 60% of the equity of Sportland International, the largest sporting goods retailer in the region, for an undisclosed sum.

EAG has 55 stores in Austria, three in Germany and owns 18 properties including stores and warehouses, with a combined gross assets of €166m. In the year to August 31st 2012 the retailer turned over €323.8m but lost €20.6m.

Sportland runs the Sportland, Timberland, O'Neill and Nike retail chains in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as being the official wholesale distributor of Nike products in the Baltics.

In calendar 2012, SIG took sales of €61.6m from its 80 stores.

Forsey said: "Expected benefits from these investments include increased scale for our international business, growing international awareness of our group brands and additional expertise in specialist product categories such as winter sports.

"We are delighted to be working with strong local partners such as the Eybl Family, Are Altraja and Anti Kalle and have every confidence in their ability to grow their businesses in Austria and the Baltics."

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