Sports Direct sprints to the rescue of Republic

The sports clothing and accessories chain has agreed to purchase the Republic fashion chain in its entirety for an as-yet-undisclosed amount.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Administrators are saying that the purchase will save more than 2,100 jobs and mean that the Republic brand has a future – at least in the short term. The deal comes just a couple of weeks after the fashion chain went into administration after a shoddy Christmas trading period.

Sports Direct, which is 64% owned by Mike Ashley, has bought 116 stores, the trademark and brand name, as well as the head office facility. It’s also bought all of the chain’s existing stock, and a couple of sub-brands (which we’ve never heard of), SoulCal, Crafted, and Fabric. Check those out on Google if you must.

Joint administrator from E&Y, Hunter Kelly, said: ‘The brand Republic is well recognised and well respected by customers for offering quality, high-fashion goods and it is a testament to its strength that Sports Direct has made this investment to secure its future and high street presence.’ He added that the administrators are ‘extremely grateful’ for the understanding shown by employees and customers since the chain fell into difficulty.

Mike Ashley, who owns Sports Direct, sold about 4% for £100m recently, but has been on the acquisition trail during the recession years. He also owns Lilywhites, Slazenger, Dunlop and Lonsdale brands, and bought what was left of his former rival JJB Sports in October last year.

Republic was first seen on Britain’s high streets back in 1986, but it started out under the brand name Best Jeans. At the time that it fell into administration, it had 121 outlets as well as 2,500 staff. Private equity firm TYPG, which bought the company for a rumoured £300m back in 2010, will no doubt be stinging from the loss – unless Sports Direct paid handsomely. But that would be stupid, right?

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