In France, Intersport about to make offer on Go Sport
AFP has learnt from a source close to the matter that sports apparel and equipment retailer Intersport is preparing to make a bid to acquire its struggling French competitor Go Sport, currently in judicial receivership. The news confirms a report by French business daily Les Échos. Meanwhile, Go Sport's CEO has been dismissed.
The takeover bid, for an undisclosed sum, must be filed by this Friday, the deadline for submitting tenders to the trade court in Grenoble, France, which placed Go Sport in receivership in February.
In France, Intersport is one of the largest sports apparel and equipment retailers. In 2021, the group posted significant growth, with revenue up by 23.6% to reach €2.76 billion (of which €120 million came from online sales). In 2022, Intersport retained the title of top apparel retailer in France by volume, ahead of the various ready-to-wear specialists, according to data by Kantar.
With 9.1 million registered customers, Intersport operates in France 431 stores in urban and suburban locations, 259 stores in mountain resorts, 68 metropolitan stores for the Blackstore chain, and 10 outlet stores. Whereas Go Sport currently has 215 addresses, between directly owned and franchised stores, with the Go Sport and Endurance Shop chains.
According to the French daily L’Obs, another sport retailer is considering making an offer on Go Sport: British retail group Frasers, owner of Sports Direct, which operates a dozen stores in France.
L’Obs has also reported that Go Sport’s current owner, the Hermione People & Brands (HPB) group, is thinking about a continuation plan as part of the receivership procedure.
Patrick Puy dismissed
In another development, Go Sport’s CEO Patrick Puy has been dismissed by HPB two months after taking charge, as HPB told the AFP agency on Thursday. HPB did not wish to comment on the reasons for Puy’s dismissal, initially reported by Le Monde and industry magazine LSA.
Puy is a corporate restructuring specialist and was recently involved with the Vivarte group. He was appointed CEO of Go Sport on January 4. At the time, HPB described him as “well-versed in negotiations between unions and management,” and tasked him with “pursuing the company’s necessary transformation.” Puy was Go Sport’s second CEO in less than a year, succeeding Benoît Verdier, who was appointed at the end of February 2022.
Go Sport is also the target of an investigation for abuse of corporate assets, after “its auditors handed over information regarding several criminal acts,” according to the Grenoble prosecution office. The case was eventually passed on to Junalco, the national organised crime agency in Paris, to which it was reassigned because of suspicions of “organised gang fraud.”
The Go Sport group was founded in 1978 and is based in Sassenage, on the outskirts of Grenoble. After posting losses for many years, it was bought by HPB at the end of 2021 for the symbolic sum of one euro from Rallye, the heavily indebted parent company of French food distribution group Casino. Go Sport has just over 2,000 employees.
The group’s ultimate owner is FIB, the holding company of Bordeaux businessman Michel Ohayon, currently caught in a perfect storm of financial difficulties and fraud allegations. A subsidiary of FIB, HPB controls a number of retail chains, notably Camaïeu, which was liquidated in September 2022, Go Sport and Gap France, which is also in receivership. HPB was placed in receivership in January.
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