Sports Direct buys two US chains in £78m debt deal

Sports Direct

Sports Direct has received approval to buy up bankrupt USA clothing retailer Eastern Outfitters.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the first half of May, it will also provide Sports Direct with a "footprint" in United States bricks-and-mortar retail, giving it a "platform from which to grow U.S. online sales".

The deal gives Sports Direct about 50 stores selling sports and casual wear and camping equipment.

In the financial period to 28 January 2017, the businesses being acquired incurred a pre-tax net operating loss of $26 million.

The US$101 million cost comprises loans advanced by Sports Direct to Eastern Outfitters before and as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, and purchases of the US firm's debt.

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown said Sports Direct had picked up a "bargain out of bankruptcy proceedings".

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He added: "We are rapidly losing patience with the company's lack of ability to stick to a strategy, not to mention the complete investor relations vacuum". Sports Direct's interest in Eastern Outfitters was first reported in February.

"We find the timing extraordinary", analysts at Peel Hunt wrote in a research note, changing their investment stance to "add" from "buy".

"What is not required, in our view, is a major (and not inexpensive) distraction, 3,000 miles away".

The retailers shares, which initially rose following the announcement have subsequently fallen.

Since the start of the year, the Sports Direct share price has risen 12%. They own various brand names including Slazenger, Lonsdale and Everlast.

Sports Direct International plc (LON:SPD) is expanding into the USA with the acquisition of Eastern Outfitters LLC for US$101mln in cash.

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