Direct Golf secures partnership with Sports Direct

Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley
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A YORKSHIRE-based golf retailer aims to pitch in to the European market after securing investment from Sports Direct, which is controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley,

Direct Golf UK has entered into a partnership with Sports Direct to help grow and promote golf in the UK and Europe.

The deal sees Sports Direct take an equity stake in the business, and also provide funding which Direct Golf believes will help it to achieve its long term goal of becoming Europe’s largest specialist golf retailer.

John Andrew, the owner and founder of Direct Golf, has retained majority ownership and day-to-day control of the business.

Huddersfield-based Direct Golf was founded by PGA professional Mr Andrew in 1991. It was established in a small shop in Huddersfield, and has grown to become a major retailer, with 20 shops nationwide and a “significant portion “of the web and mail-order golf market.

The company, which employs around 150 staff, hopes to open another 20 shops in the UK over the next three years, and in the longer term, expand into Europe. The company’s turnover was around £23.9m last year.

Mr Andrew said: “Teaming up with Sports Direct is a fantastic opportunity for us and will give Direct Golf access to many new and attractive market opportunities. This deal gives the company the funding to realise our goal of becoming Europe’s leading golf retail company, by expanding our existing store portfolio with the roll-out of a golf superstore concept.”

The company is also considering acquisitions to accelerate its growth, Mr Andrew confirmed.

Mr Andrew added: “This is my 30th year as a PGA professional, and it’s our goal to become the retailer of choice for golfers in Europe, and we believe this new collaboration will make that aim possible. The opportunities with the Sports Direct group are endless, and being close to such a successful retailer fills me with great excitement.”

According to Mr Andrew, Sports Direct will provide expertise in relation to supply chain buying and merchandising, logistics, brand building and marketing.

Mr Andrew added: “Areas of the golf industry have been in decline now for several years in the UK, and I see this move as a massive positive for both the industry and Direct Golf. One of the comments I hear from people who take up golf is that the game is too hard. They get frustrated and eventually give up because it takes too long to learn. It’s our aim to overcome this by introducing a number of exciting new initiatives.”

Earlier this month, Direct Golf UK joined Tesco direct, which has helped to increase the scale of its online marketplace.

Direct Golf will sell golf brands including Mizuno, Wilson, Bridgestone, Stuburt, John Letters, Progen, Golf Locker, Hotblade and Jaxx, alongside products from other golf manufacturers on the Tesco direct website.

Sports Direct reported a 16 per cent jump in pre-tax profits to £239.5m for the year to April 27.

Sports Direct said the performance of the group has gone from “strength to strength” since a staff bonus scheme was launched in September 2009.

The group, which owns brands including Dunlop, Karrimor and Slazenger, has 418 UK stores.