Some sports retailers face challenges despite excellent market growth
The sporting goods retail market is being supported by strong macro tailwinds as people of all ages across the globe lead healthier and more active lives, however not all players are benefitting. Although mature markets remain robust and emerging markets are being bolstered by growing disposable incomes and participation rates, some retailers are struggling to compete with scaled players (Decathlon), large brands (Nike & Adidas) and increasingly e-commerce giants (Amazon). We are seeing the market use M&A to reposition – deals are being used to extend geographic footprints, enhance outdated product portfolios (in dynamic categories such as women’s and outdoor), and to deliver important e-commerce solutions.
- The sporting goods retail market is expanding at a CAGR4Y of c. 4%, and is forecast to remain at that level until 2022. Growth is being driven by emerging markets, casual fashion trends, women’s lifestyle sports and rising participation rates.
- There were some headline deals in 2018: most notably, JD Sports’ (UK) $588 billion acquisition of the struggling US sneaker chain The Finish Line – a deal that improves JD’s purchasing power with key suppliers (the giant brands) and creates a top 8 player with combined annual sales of more than $5 billion.
- However the market is not without challenges, as undifferentiated and unscaled generalists struggle to compete with the giant brands’ growing retail presence (Nike, Adidas), scaled players’ private label offerings (Decathlon) and the giant online marketplaces (Amazon) – underlined by a series of high-profile bankruptcies in the US, where the market is more saturated.
- Leading players continue to pursue vertical integration to improve margins from both ends of the value chain: the giant brands (Nike, Adidas, Puma) are growing their retail operations, while leading retailers (Decathlon, Go Sport) are increasingly manufacturing their own private labels. Margins are therefore being squeezed for unscaled and undifferentiated generalists.
- Valuation multiples for the sector are typically double-digit EBITDA, and higher for category captains and market leaders. Europe is displaying the highest listed valuations, at 13x EBITDA, followed by Asia (11x) and North America (9x).
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“A positive macro environment is helping the M&A market for sporting goods retail. Deals are being used to tap growth in complementary and high growth market segments, such as outdoor. E-commerce continues to be a popular target, as well as specialists. The days of the traditional brick & mortar SME generalist are numbered.”