JD Sports swoops for £400m US firm

JD Sports

Bury-based JD Sports Fashion is to acquire one of the largest retailers of athletes’ footwear, clothing and accessories in the US valued at nearly £400m.

It has bought The Finish Line Inc at a price of $13.50 per share, valuing its total equity at $558m.

Finish Line trades from 556 branded retail stores across 44 US states and in Puerto Rico in addition to a well-established multi-channel offering.

It is also the exclusive retailer of athletic shoes, both in-store and online for Macy’s, one of the US’ premier retailers, operating 375 branded and 188 unbranded concessions within Macy’s stores.

JD says the Acquisition offers the company the opportunity to expand its market leading elevated proposition into the most significant global market.

It immediately gains the benefit of a significant physical and online retail presence and increases the importance of the company to its major international brand partners.

On completion of the deal, the company will focus on bringing JD’s highly differentiated multi-channel retail proposition to the US market.

The acquisition is subject to approval from both JD and Finish Line shareholders.

Finish Line is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange with a market capitalisation of about $425m (£301m). It employs around 3,700 full time and around 9,300 part-time staff.

Peter Cowgill, Executive Chairman of JD said: “We are extremely excited to be joining up with Finish Line, a well-established US operator.

The acquisition represents an excellent opportunity for JD to establish its market leading multi-brand proposition in the world’s largest athleisure market.

“It immediately offers a major presence in the US, a clear next step to further increase our global scale.

“Finish Line has many similarities to JD with a strong bricks and mortar offering complemented by an advanced and well-invested digital platform.

“We are looking forward to working with Finish Line’s experienced management team to bring best in class retail theatre to the US. Our combined extensive knowledge of the retail market and our product and marketing relationships with global brand partners will benefit our customers, in turn supporting the continued future growth of JD.

“This is a landmark day for JD and will be transformational for the business.”

Bill Carmichael, chairman of the special committee and lead director of the Finish Line board of directors said: “The special committee appointed by the Finish Line board recommended and the board voted unanimously to approve entering into this merger agreement.

“With JD, Finish Line achieves immediate value for its shareholders and moves into a stronger position to compete as part of a global enterprise that leads in our industry.”

Sam Sato, chief executive of Finish Line, said: “Finish Line has long admired JD and their commitment to serve customers with premium brands through a unique and innovative retail experience. We are thrilled to partner with them and look forward to realizing the impact we will have on the marketplace together.”

The Manchester office of law firm Addleshaw Goddard advised on the deal on behalf of its client JD Sports.

The team was led by partner Roger Hart and included Martin O’Shea, Rabia Burton, Rachael Norris and Caroline Gray.

Barclays also advised JD on the acquisition as well as leading the financing in the UK, underwriting the £400m RCF facility alongside HSBC.

Martin Souter, relationship director at Barclays, said, “We are really pleased to continue our longstanding relationship and support JD with this landmark and transformational acquisition.”