Controversial retailer Sports Direct has paid £5m for a 60 per cent stake in outdoor company Field & Trek.

The acquisitive group, which last week launched a £67m deal for boxing brand Everlast, already owns 29 per cent of troubled outdoor retailer Blacks Leisure. Sports Direct was founded by the secretive billionaire Mike Ashley, who used some of the fortune he raised when his company was floated to buy Newcastle United football club.

Sports Direct, which owns the Sports World chain, has an option to buy the remaining 40 per cent of Field & Trek for £5m in five years. Clearly, in the wider scheme, Field & Trek is small fry, but it’s significant Ashley sees a move into the specialist outdoor gear field useful to his company.

Since floating, Sports Direct’s share price has plummeted from 300p to 185p. It rose by 2.5p on news of the Field & Trek takeover. Field & Trek was founded in 1973 and is based in Laindon, Essex. It has 11 shops, mainly in the South-East, and a large website retail operation.

Mike Ashley has was accused of ‘corporate bullying’ when he threatened to oust the board of Blacks Leisure over disagreements about disposal of parts of the company.

Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey said “This investment helps to fulfil our objective of expanding our outdoors leisure offering.” For which read: the outdoor retail industry is a high-value market unlike the sports goods market which has seen increased competition as supermarkets see potential sales of items such as replica football shirts.

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