• JD Sports mulls takeover bid for Go Outdoors
  • Go Outdoors has been put up for sale by its management and private equity backers
  • Auction for the business is being run by KPMG, reports suggest

JD Sports is eyeing a takeover of rival high-street chain Go Outdoors as the retailer presses ahead with its ambitious growth plans.

The potential acquisition of privately owned Go Outdoors would cement JD’s position as the UK’s biggest listed sporting goods retailer, having stormed past Sports Direct off the back of impressive recent trading performance.

According to Sky News, JD is among “a number of bidders” considering offers for Go Outdoors after its management and private equity backers put the business up for sale.

KPMG is understood to be running the auction process for the retailer, which has also attracted attention from several buyout firms.

Its future is set to be decided by the end of the year.

The interest from JD comes off the back of a 57% surge in pre-tax profits to £157.1m in the year to January 30.

Since then the business has issued a profit upgrade for its current financial year following a trading boost from Euro 2016.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill said he expects the retailer to post “excellent” half-year results when it updates the market on September 13.

On the up

Recent performance has seen JD surge ahead of its rival Sports Direct, which is facing a shareholder revolt at next month’s AGM over its corporate governance, working practices at its Shirebrook warehouse and use of zero-hour contracts.

JD has capitalised in the UK and is also continuing to expand on the Continent after completing a €26.5m (£20.9m) deal to acquire beleaguered Dutch chains Perry Sport and Aktiesport from Unlimited Sports Group in March.

A move to snap up Go Outdoors wouldn’t be the first time JD has seized on an acquisition opportunity in its domestic market.

Four years ago, it acquired the bulk of the Blacks and Millets estates when they ran into difficulty.

Go Outdoors, which is part owned by private equity group 3i, enjoyed a 20% boost in sales between 2014 and 2015.

The business, which sells products including tents, waterproof clothing, hiking equipment and bicycles from a 60-strong store portfolio, has embarked on a £10m expansion plan that will include the recruitment of 2,000 additional staff.

A JD Sports spokeswoman said the company “does not comment on market speculation and rumour”. 

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