Big hitter retailer joins American Golf

Nigel Oddy, new CEO at American Golf

Nigel Oddy is to join International Leisure Group (ILG), owners of the American Golf retail brand, after a six months stint seeing Matalan through the highwire act of a refinancing and a tasty takeover bid.

Owned by private equity funder Endless, Oddy succeeds Gary Favell as chief executive on the 11th of April 2023 and will assume responsibilities for the whole of ILG, including American Golf.

Prior to his interim role at Matalan Oddy was chief executive of New Look, having previously worked in senior roles with The Range, House of Fraser, and Marks and Spencer.

Oddy said: “I am very excited to join the team at ILG and have been a customer of American Golf for many years. I have watched the progress of the company as an omnichannel golf retailer since Endless LLP acquired the company in 2018, and the new store concept is best in class in the UK and European golf retail.

“Additionally, it has a market leading position in Custom Fit golf clubs, a portfolio of wholly owned brands, and is developing multi-dimensional golf leisure sites. This is a group incredibly well positioned to maximise the opportunity created by the explosion of golf participation over the last three years.”

Unlike the under par performances of Matalan, Oddy inherits a relatively stable retail business by comparison. Under Favell total sales topped £166m last year, with EBITDA of £12.8m, marking a significant swing from £1.6m in 2021.

The business was losing £3.9m a year before Endless bought it in October 2018. 

Richard Cotter, chairman of ILG said: “We are very pleased to have Nigel join the board of International Leisure Group as chief executive officer, this is a very exciting time for the group and for golf in general as participation levels remain very strong vs pre-covid numbers, with lots of new players joining the game and golf club membership flourishing. Nigel will bring a huge depth of experience having run multi-site retail, online and leisure businesses across Europe as we build on our position as the UK and Europe’s biggest and best golf retailer.”

ILG has invested in technology-driven store refurbishments including Greater Manchester’s flagship American Golf store in Trafford.

The company also made its first leisure acquisitions of entire golf courses, including Cheshire’s High Legh Golf Club, Cambridgeshire’s Hemingford Abbots Golf Club and Lancashire’s Rossendale Golf Centre, where adventure golf and the company’s family-friendly Il Corso Italian-American dining concept is being rolled out, to appeal to families.

James Woolley, Endless LLP said: “Endless are delighted to bring Nigel on board. He brings a wealth of retail experience and will complement the existing board as we invest more into our retail footprint and omnichannel operations.  We remain committed to  ensure we continue to lead the way in bringing the best products and unparalleled service to help enhance the game of 5 million golfers in the UK.”  

American Golf has over 90 golf stores, an online retail offering and a series of brand new, state of the art range complexes. The business employs over 42 PGA Professionals, alongside a team of custom fitting experts who provide a custom fitting service.

In 2021 American Golf was the official partner of The Legends Tour, and the official retail partner of both the Rose Ladies Series and ISPS Handa World Invitational.  In 2022, American Golf broke new barriers with LET and LPGA Pro Carly Booth, England right leg and right arm amputee golfer, George Blackshaw and ex-professional footballer turned pro-golfer, Lee Sharpe as American Golf’s newest brand ambassadors; as well as continuing its partnership with former World No.1 disability golfer, Brendan Lawlor.


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