Sports Direct has become a powerhouse of the British retailing scene, in part, due to the acquisitions it has made. Now the chain appears to be looking further afield with founder Mike Ashley having spent the past weekend in Dublin. It is thought that he stepped in to outbid a rival firm for the ownership of Irish sports retailer Elverys, the oldest sports chain of its type in the Republic.
After being placed on the market several months ago it was expected to be sold to a management buyout team. However Sports Direct and rival chain Lifetime Sports, both of whom showed interest in the chain, reportedly complained that they were shut out of the present deal and thus had not been able to enter counter bids.
However, it is now understood that Mr Ashley offered to pay 2.5 million Euros more than the 10 million Euro submission made by the Elverys management group and that talks are continuing.
Should Mike Ashley’s chain secure ownership of Elverys, it could prove to be a significant feather in Sports Direct’s cap when seeking to further infiltrate the Irish market. The sporting giant currently has 26 stores in Ireland and holds a 50 per cent stake in department store chain Heatons, so the addition of 55 stores to its commercial property portfolio could well see it become hugely influential in the Irish retail industry.
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black believes existing Elverys customers could help Sports Direct gain firm footing in Ireland.
He says; “Elverys could be a very cost effective way into a complimentary market.
“It’s a small market but has the same language and more cultural similarities than differences.”