French anti-trust authorities have authorized the proposed takeover of Groupe Go Sport, one of the major sports retailers in France, by Financière Immobilière Bordelaise (FIB), a real estate-based investment fund controlled by a rich businessman in Bordeaux, Michel Ohayon, who has already acquired other retail operations in the country.
Last March, Ohayon offered to pay only one symbolic euro for the business, indicating that it’s far from being profitable and that FIB is ready to assume all its debts. FIB is also being allowed to carry out the takeover without any conditions. Besides the anti-trust authorities’ endorsement, the agreement for Go Sport’s sale was also conditional on its approval by its personnel and by the banks.
According to the anti-trust authority, the Go Sport Group currently employs 1,980 people and generates annual revenues of more than €300 million. It owns 85 stores operating under the Go Sport banner and many others being franchised in France and abroad under the Go Sport, Endurance Shop and Techniciens du Sport banners. Adding up their sales, it was estimated to have had a turnover of €625 million in 2019.
Go Sport’s parent company, Rallye, has been losing money in recent years. It has reported a consolidated debt of more than $2.8 billion at the end of 2020, and it has pledged to repay a large part of it over the next ten years. Most of the debt has been attributed to its largest holding, the Casino chain of supermarket stores.
Pressure from its creditors has already led Rallye to divest the Go Sport Group’s chain of athletic footwear stores, Courir, and its chain of Go Sport stores in Poland. These assets have been taken over by an investment fund and by the Russian-based Sportmaster Group, respectively.
Reportedly, FIB expects to generate revenues of around €1.3 billion this year from various retail operations – all in France – including 22 Galeries Lafayette department stores, 511 Camaîeu boutiques, 21 Gap stores and 175 toy stores operating under two different banners. It also owns vinyards and three luxury hotels.