Sports Direct has announced a surprise £112 million deal to sell sportswear brand Dunlop.
Mike Ashley, Sports Direct’s owner, is a major shareholder in Dunlop Slazenger and has agreed to sell the company to Japanese company Sumitomo Rubber Industries which will acquire all trademark and licensing rights as well as all its retail businesses.
Ashley purchased the 107 year-old brand from the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2004 for £40 million, but now states that his company doesn’t have the “bandwidth to develop and manage international brands simultaneously,” citing a need to focus on his UK businesses.
READ MORE: Sports Direct profits plummet 33.5%
This follows a tough year for Sports Direct and Ashley, having spent much of it bombarded by the media for scandals including “Victorian” working conditions and shareholder revolts.
Trading has also suffered reporting this month that its profits had more than halved in the six months to October 23 to just £71.6 million.
The Japanese buyer Sumitoto Rubber Industries already owns the rights to the Dunlop brand in other markets, and has a sports division which makes tennis and golf equipment for which Dunlop is most recognised.