American Golf, the leading British golf retailer, intends to rapidly move into the rest of Europe after it was acquired by Sun Capital Partners, a U.S. private equity firm. A majority stake in the company was divested last month by Lloyds Development Capital (LDC), the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, which formally sold the stake to Sun European Partners.

Nick Wood, chief executive of American Golf, told the Manchester Evening News that the deal would enable the company to open stores in France, Germany and Sweden. The retailer, which has 88 shops in the U.K. and Ireland, also wants to continue expanding in these two countries, with eight openings per year and a target of up to 140 stores.

American Golf reached sales of £86.6 million (€104.7m-$134.7m) for the year until the end of January 2010, the last year for which it filed results. This amounted to a sales increase of nearly 20 percent compared with the previous financial year, and the company indicates that its turnover has since continued to grow, also on a comparable basis.

American Golf expanded online in 2010 by acquiring SW Golf, the company that runs the store. LDC said at the time that Online Golf held an estimated 30 percent share of the £25 million (€30.2m-$38.9m) online golf market in the U.K. Online sales make up about 15 percent of American Golf's turnover.

The terms of American Golf's sale to Sun Capital were undisclosed, but when talks started a few months ago it was reported that LDC was hoping to obtain at least £80 million (€96.7m-$124.5m) from the transaction. LDC reportedly acquired American Golf in 2004 for £40 million (€48.3m-$62.2m).

Meanwhile, Direct Golf UK, another leading golf retailer in the U.K., said it had reached record sales after it opened five stores in 2011, and it will take over another three stores in 2012 to form a network of 20 stores around the country. Earlier in 2011, Direct Golf UK agreed to buy two Scottish stores, which it will effectively take over in January, and it has just inked a deal to take over the retail operation of the Ingleby Barwick Golf Academy in Stockton-on-Tees, in the northeast of England, from February. The past year was also marked by investments in the company's online store and the launch of Direct Golf TV.