Trends & Features

Sports Direct referred to Competition Commission

The Office of Fair Trading has referred Sports Direct’s acquisition of 31 JJB Sports stores to the Competition Commission.

The move comes as a result of the company’s failure to find a suitable buyer to remedy what the OFT describes as “Previously identified competition concerns”.

The OFT’s investigation earlier this year found that the acquisitions, which took place over a two-year period, raised competition concerns in five local areas where Sports Direct already had existing stores.

Says Amelia Fletcher, OFT senior director of mergers: “We insisted on an upfront buyer provision in this case because we were uncertain that there were suitable buyers for the stores Sports Direct offered to divest. Its failure to make any real progress towards a sale in three months demonstrates that our caution in requiring an upfront buyer was justified.

“After careful consideration, we have rejected Sports Direct’s request for additional time to try to achieve a sale. We are not persuaded that an extension would make a difference in this case, and in these circumstances the proper course is for the OFT to refer the matter to the Competition Commission.”

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