JD Sports pockets Go Outdoors in £112m deal

JD Sports has acquired retailer Go Outdoors for £112.3 million from its private equity owners.

JD Sports is already one of the UK's biggest sports and outdoor clothing retailers. Picture: Lisa McPhillips

The deal will see JD buy the 58-store tents to cycles retailer from YFM Equity Partners and 3i Group and adds to the group’s stable of outdoor brands such as Blacks, Millets and Ultimate Outdoors.

As a result of the deal, Go Outdoors founders Paul Caplan and John Graham will leave the business.

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JD Sports chief executive Peter Cowgill said: “Go Outdoors is a great addition to our existing Outdoor business.

“The minimal overlap in store locations and their out-of-town, one-stop retailer approach complements the work we have done on the high street with Blacks and Millets and further strengthens our offering in the Outdoor sector. I am excited by the future prospects this holds for the JD Group.”

In the 53 weeks to 31 January, Sheffield-based Go Outdoors made revenues of £202.2m and generated pre-tax profit of £4.9m.

In September, JD Sports notched up record half-year profits and announced plans to set up shop in Australia, as well as vowing to press ahead with European expansion despite the Brexit vote.

The company also acquired Next Athleisure in Australia, which trades as Glue, with the deal providing “the platform to open JD in Australia”.

Rob Baxter, retail partner at KPMG, who advised Go Outdoors on the transaction, said: “Competition in the UK retail industry is intense, and this pressure is increasingly driving consolidation across the market.

“The sports and leisure sector has been particularly active in mergers and acquisitions over the past year, driven by very attractive demographic trends and a market in which a large number of retailers and brand owners compete.

“Consumers also appear to be undeterred by what has been a politically tumultuous year. Confidence for the moment remains resilient, supporting retailers’ prospects, and we would expect to see more buyout activity in the coming months.”

Shore Capital analyst George Mensah said the deal had been “much-rumoured”. He noted: “We believe this acquisition helps to support the strategic purpose of consolidation of the outdoor apparel retail market.”