Outdoors specialist snapped up in £112m JD Sports deal

X The Business Desk

Register for free to receive latest news stories direct to your inbox


SHEFFIELD outdoor clothing company Go Outdoors has been acquired by JD Sports in a deal worth £112.3m.

JD Sports Fashion signed the deal for the company, including its £16m net debt, yesterday.

Rumours of the acquisition have circulated since August, after Go Outdoors was put up for sale by its management and private equity owners.

Go Outdoors was founded in 1998 in Sheffield by Paul Caplan and John Graham and is currently backed by YFM Equity Partners and 3i Group. Following completion of the transaction both founders will leave the business.

It grew from a single store to a nationwide outdoors group with 58 stores and turnover of £202.2m, with pre-tax profits of £4.9m.

JD Sports said it had a “significant interest” in the outdoors market through its Blacks, Millets, Ultimate Outdoors and Tiso businesses.

Together they had combined revenues of £155m for the year to 30 January 2016 with 182 stores trading at the year end.

JD Sports said there would be minimal crossover as most of its existing outdoor chains are high street based, whilst Go Outdoors has locations in out-of-town retail parks.

Peter Cowgill, JD Sports executive chairman, commented: “Go Outdoors is a great addition to our existing Outdoor business. The minimal overlap in store locations and their out of town, one stop retailer approach complements the work we have done on the high street with Blacks and Millets and further strengthens our offering in the Outdoor sector. I am excited by the future prospects this holds for the JD Group.”

Rob Baxter, retail partner, and Helen Roxburgh, corporate finance director, at KPMG advised Go Outdoors on the transaction.

Helen Roxburgh said: “Competition in the UK retail industry is intense, and this pressure is increasingly driving consolidation across the market. The sports and leisure sector has been particularly active in mergers and acquisitions over the past year, driven by very attractive demographic trends and a market in which a large number of retailers and brand owners compete.

“Consumers also appear to be undeterred by what has been a politically tumultuous year. Confidence for the moment remains resilient, supporting retailers’ prospects, and we would expect to see more buyout activity in the coming months.”