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Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post
Jon Robinson

JD Sports reveals £15m deal to buy group founded by former Olympic swimmers Steve Parry, Rebecca Adlington and Adrian Turner

JD Sports has revealed a £15m deal to buy a group founded by former Olympic swimmers Steve Parry, Rebecca Adlington and Adrian Turner.

The Greater Manchester-headquartered retail giant has acquired a 60% stake in Bolton-based Total Swimming Group.

The deal was completed on May 27 but JD Sports said that due to the proximity of the date of the acquisition and the publication of its full-year results, it could not reveal the acquisition until now.

READ MORE: JD Sports and Elite Sports confess to 'cartel activity' in Rangers FC replica kit price-fixing probe

The initial cash consideration for Total Swimming Group was £11.1m with a maximum of £4m deferred "that is contingent upon future performance criteria and certain closing conditions".

The group was founded by former Olympic swimmers Steve Parry, Rebecca Adlington and Adrian Turner to make swimming more accessible and includes Swim!, the first multi-site operator of dedicated children's learn to swim centres in the UK.

In its 2021 financial year, Total Swimming Group generated a revenue of £8.6m.

The deal comes after company announced a £3m investment in November 2021.

The acquisition was revealed in the full year accounts for JD Sports which show the retail giant had achieved record profits but included a warning that the current economic woes will hold back its future growth.

The group has reported profits before tax and exceptional items of £947.2m for the 12 months to January 29, 2022, up from the £421.3m it achieved during the prior year.

Its revenue also jumped from £6.1bn to £8.5bn over the same period.

However JD Sports - which markets itself as the King of Trainers - said its profit growth is expected to be held back in the year to next January, due to pressures of the cost-of-living crisis in the UK and wider economic woes.

The results are the first since Peter Cowgill suddenly resigned as executive chairman last month after 18 years in the role.

In February, JD Sports was fined £4.3m by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for exchanging information with Footasylum, which it had agreed to buy at the time for £90m.

The deal had been blocked by the watchdog a few months earlier but not before Mr Cowgill had met his opposite number at Footasylum in a Bury car park, according to video seen by the Sunday Times.

JD said last month that Mr Cowgill was stepping down after a review of its internal governance and controls, but the move came amid speculation that he was ousted.

Board member Kath Smith, who has worked for Adidas and Reebok in the past, has taken the helm while the company looks for a new chief executive.

The firm's woes have continued, with the CMA finding provisionally earlier this month that it conspired, together with sporting goods firm Elite Sports and Rangers Football Club, to fix prices of Rangers club clothing merchandise.

Interim chair Helen Ashton said: "This was another period of outstanding progress with the group delivering a record headline profit before tax and exceptional items of £947.2m (2021: £421.3m), more than double the previous record of £438.8m set in the period to 1 February 2020, which was the last completed financial year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"This result demonstrates our capacity for growth in both existing and new markets, and the strength of our global proposition and consumer engagement in store and online.

"We are, as always, indebted to our talented and committed colleagues across our group and send our thanks for the amazing work they do every day.

"We are particularly encouraged by the strong performance from the group's banners in North America.

"It is increasingly evident that the group's progress in North America, and the United States in particular, is having a long-term positive impact both on the group's overall performance and its relationships with the international brands.

"Balancing the operational requirements of running and growing a business through a global pandemic with the obligations of elevating governance standards has been complex and not without challenge.

"A number of regulatory issues have arisen through this time which, following a series of independent investigations alongside the completion of the group's governance review, have highlighted the need for both greater relevant experience on the board and more formalisation in governance systems, risk management recording, the documentation and appraisal of internal controls and the mechanisms for reporting relevant matters to the regulatory authorities where appropriate.

"The process to recruit a CEO is ongoing with a number of high calibre candidates at different stages of consideration including some who have only recently made their interest in the role known.

JD Sports is headquartered in Greater Manchester (Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

"A process to recruit a new non-executive chair is also progressing at pace.

"Meanwhile, the board is happy with how the interim arrangements are operating and will update the market on the progress of these search processes as appropriate.

"JD is a globally recognised iconic multichannel retailer with a proven strategy, clear momentum and a talented and resilient senior management team who are recognised within the sports fashion industry as some of the leading figures in their fields.

"The board and senior management team are united in their determination to build on the historical successes with the same laser focus on the consumer, commercial rigour, attention to service excellence and analytical intensity.

"We will continue to seek to inspire the emerging generation of aspirationally minded consumers through a connection to the universal culture of sport, music and fashion with the highest standards of consumer experience and execution, both in stores and online.

"Building on our status as a premier global strategic partner, we will also continue to deliver a product and brand mix which is emotionally engaging, exclusive and continually evolving.

"Whilst we are encouraged by the resilient nature of the consumer demand in the current year to date, we remain conscious of the headwinds that prevail at this time including the general global macro-economic and geopolitical situation.

"Against this backdrop, the board believes that the headline profit before tax and exceptional items for the year end 28 January 2023 will be in line with the record performance for the year ended 29 January 2022."

The group added that it has repaid the £24.4m support which its UK businesses received during the year to January 29 from the furlough scheme.

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