Sports Direct is seeking to further its position in Ireland with a plan to buy out shareholders in Irish company Warrnambool.
The sportswear retailer, owned by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, has agreed on a €47.5m deal with a minority shareholder of Warrnambool. This will leave Sports Direct as the owner of just over half of the Irish company, with options on the remaining shares.
Sports Direct already has a portfolio in Ireland. Warrnambool is the parent company of Heatons, a chain that specialises in clothing and homeware and has 44 stores in the Republic of Ireland and ten in Northern Ireland. 27 of the outlets in the Republic of Ireland include a ‘SportsWorld’ section, whilst the stores in the North either incorporate a Sports Direct branded section or are adjacent to a Sports Direct outlet.
When announcing the move to shareholders, Sports Direct said the acquisition would be funded from its operating cash-flow and existing bank facilities.
Sports Direct CEO Dave Forsey said: “We look forwards to accelerating investment into the existing store portfolio and strengthening the Heatons and Sports Direct brands across Ireland.”
The purchase agreement, as well as the conditional option agreement, hinge upon gaining clearance from the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. The options are exercisable at various times during the period commencing after such clearance would be granted, and ending on 2 July 2017.