Sports Direct has stepped up its row with sportswear giant Adidas and is understood to have reported it to the competition authorities.
Dave Forsey, chief executive of Sports Direct, has labeled Adidas’s restriction on the supply of its replica football kits to the retailer over concerns about its in-store presentation as “anti-competitive”.
Adidas has held back supply of Chelsea replica shirts as well as World Cup kits for countries such as Argentina, Spain and Germany as well as the official ball. It has also removed its Originals range from Sports Direct-owned USC.
Forsey said that Adidas’s approach was preventing Sports Direct from making a bid for Office as it was concerned it would cut supply of its footwear to the chain. He said: “It is impossible to consider. We are the perfect potential partner.”
Oriel Securities analyst Jonathan Pritchard said his sympathy was with Adidas: “Store standards in the average Sports Direct stores can certainly improve, and in our view, Adidas is justified in suggesting that Sports Direct does more work on its “presentation”.
Forsey’s comments to The Telegraph comes just days after Adidas boss Herbert Hainer seemingly offered an olive branch to Sports Direct. Hainer said that it is still keen to work with the retailer, set up by Mike Ashley, and was planning to visit its new Oxford Street flagship with its head of buying.
However, Forsey said Hainer was being “disingenuous” and that there was a “total disconnect” between his comments and Adidas’s restriction of products to Sports Direct.
It is understood that Sports Direct has reported adidas to the Competition and Markets Authority, according to the Telegraph. However, Forsey told the newspaper that Sports Direct is “active” with the authorities about the Adidas issue. He claimed Adidas was concerned about the discounts Sports Direct offers. “We believe it is all about price. That is the only conclusion we can come to. How can you justify not supplying us with the World Cup football. Is it a lower quality of air [in Sports Direct stores]?” he said.
Sports Direct is set for a showdown with investors today at its AGM where a bonus proposal for Mike Ashley is expected to be rejected. This would be the third time investors have vetoed a bonus for Ashley, who serves as executive deputy chairman but does not receive a salary. Ashley owns 58% of Sports Direct.