American Golf in the rough as chain’s owner seeks rapid sale

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The US may have made the stronger start to this year’s Ryder Cup, but American Golf, Britain’s biggest specialist golfing retailer, is trying to find its way out of a financial bunker.

Sky News has learnt that the chain, which trades from more than 130 stores across the UK and Ireland, has approached potential buyers in the last few days in an effort to secure new investment.

Sources close to the process, which is being run by Deloitte, said that American Golf had been hit by weather-related problems both during the extended cold snap earlier this year and then the warmer-than-usual summer.


Deloitte is understood to have told a number of turnaround investors and retailers this week that it is seeking offers within a short timeframe, suggesting that the chain may be facing serious financial distress.

American Golf sells big-name brands including Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist and Wilson.

A source close to Sun European Partners, the private equity firm which has owned American Golf since 2012, insisted that a sale was being marketed on a solvent basis and not as a potential pre-pack administration.

The sources added that Sun had indicated that it would not inject any additional capital into the business.

A previous restructuring in 2015 was necessary, the company said at the time, to “maintain the confidence of its supplier, credit insurers and other key stakeholders”.

It is thought that a sale rather than a Company Voluntary Arrangement, under which creditors vote on proposals to cut rents and close shops, is the more likely option.

Analysts named both JD Sports and Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct as potential bidders for the business.

Sun’s acquisition of the business seven years ago from LDC, the investment firm owned by Lloyds Banking Group, came during a period of growing golf participation in the UK.

However, in accounts for the period ended 22 January 2017, American Golf Discount Centre Limited said that UK participation in the sport “decreased‎ around 8.9% in 2016, following several successive years of decline”.

Accounts for the year to January 2018 have yet to be filed at Companies House.

A spokesman for Sun European Partners declined to comment on Friday.

The need to rapidly find a buyer for American Golf reflects the broader turmoil in Britain’s retail industry.

Maplin, Poundworld and Toys R Us UK have all crashed into administration this year, with other chains such as Carpetright, Mothercare and New Look shutting stores and cutting jobs.


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