Activa Capital, the fund that holds 51 percent of Sport 2000 France, and retail members of this voluntary group said that they had come to an agreement about its management and strategy for the coming years. Approved by members representing more than half of the group's turnover, the deal puts an end to a revolt that erupted last April, when members representing about 70 percent of the buying group's sales threatened to split off and form an alternative alliance.

These disgruntled retailers had given Activa Capital until the end of May to come up with ways of exiting company in the next three years. Activa Capital acquired a stake of 37.4 percent in Sport 2000 France back in May 2008, but last November it exercised an option to raise its stake to 51 percent.

The fund decided to do so after the opening of 15 directly owned stores badly affected the financial situation of the buying group. Most of these stores have been shut down and the buying group's performance has strongly improved, but Activa Capital's leadership triggered intense disagreements with Sport 2000 members. As part of the dissent, Yannick Morat, a large-scale French retailer representing the membership, resigned as chairman of the group in May.

Under the new agreement between the two parties, Activa Capital will retain its stake of 51 percent in Sport 2000 France, but the members will have the opportunity to buy back the ownership of the company in three to four years' time, depending on the development of the store network, at a price that will be calculated on the basis of their joint turnover.

In return, the members have committed themselves to stick to Sport 2000 for at least 36 more months instead of pulling out, possibly flocking over to another buying group.

The new agreement also gives the retail members a majority of the votes on the board of directors of Sport 2000 France, with five out of eight seats including the presidency and with a guarantee that this body will dictate the buying group's strategy. The members had a majority of the votes on the board before, but they argued that, in effect, all decisions were made by an executive committee and that the buying group was increasingly run like a franchise.

As part of this agreement, Morat returns as chairman of the board. Frédéric Dekeyser, currently chief financial officer, will keep this job but also become the deputy general manager. The current general manager, Marc Oursin, will leave the company by the end of this year, once he has implemented its financial cleanup and other restructuring measures – particularly the sale or closure of the 27 corporate stores that Sport 2000 had opened since 2008. Oursin will then move on to the industrial committee of Activa Capital.

The two parties added that Sport 2000 was doing well, as it has returned to financial health and has been enjoying faster growth than the French market so far this year. The turnover of its members, operating 559 stores, amounts to about €600 million on an annual basis, and it reportedly improved by 10 percent in 2010 on a comparable store basis, excluding the shutdown of stores and the departure of some retail members.

The agreed strategy calls for Sport 2000 members to open about 10 new stores per year, in areas where they have an expertise.