GO Outdoors operates mainly out-of-town stores

GO Outdoors operates mainly out-of-town stores

The future of the UK’s biggest outdoors retailer is in doubt after its owners posted a notice of its intention to appoint administrators.

GO Outdoors has 67 stores and employs about 2,400 staff and was bought by JD Sports in 2016.

In the year ended February 2019, the latest period for which full figures have been published, it had a turnover of £240m, with an operating profit of just over £1m, but the coronavirus lockdown prompted the company to temporarily change its name to GO Indoors as the government introduced stay-at-home guidance.

It posted a loss of about £40m in the six months to August 2019.

Less than two weeks ago, GO Outdoors said it was looking forward to a boost in sales from people looking to buy camping equipment for staycations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the time, Lee Bagnall, chief executive of GO Outdoors and Blacks Outdoors Retail Limited, said: “Over recent weeks it’s been fascinating to see continued public interest in the camping sector as the outdoors remains a key part of our British leisure and recreational culture, albeit with restrictions in place.

“People have been taking advantage of the sunny weather of late, opting to camp out in their back gardens throughout lockdown.

“We’ve seen this elsewhere, with our customers choosing to spend their daily exercise walking and cycling – reflected in the sales of our walking gear and especially bikes.

“For many, camping will mean rediscovering the pleasures of childhood holidays this summer, and for some this will be their first experience of holidaying in the outdoors. We hope by experiencing the delights that camping in the UK has to offer, this will encourage more people in the future, post-coronavirus, to embrace the British outdoors and to in turn boost the British economy.”

The company temporarily changed its logo to GO Indoors during lockdown

The company temporarily changed its logo to GO Indoors during lockdown

But today, after weekend reports of the company looking to appoint administrators, its owners said in a statement: “JD Sports Fashion PLC notes the speculation with regards to the filing of a notice of intention to appoint administrators at Go Outdoors.

“The group can confirm that it has considered a number of strategic options for Go [Outdoors] and that Go’s directors have lodged the notice in court.

“This notice creates an immediate moratorium around the company and its property which lasts for 10 business days. During this moratorium, Go’s creditors cannot take legal action or continue with any existing legal proceedings against the company without the court’s permission.

“Administrators have not yet been appointed and the group will make no further comment at this time.”

JD Sports’ ultimate owners are the Pentland Group, which also owns the Berghaus brand. JD Sports paid £112m for GO Outdoors to its private-equity owners. The company grew from the Camping and Caravanning Centre in Sheffield. John Graham and Paul Caplan acquired GO Outdoors in a management buyout with backing from YFM Equity Partners and 3i Group.

The pair left the company when JD Sports bought it in a deal in which it also took on £16m of debt.

JD Sports also owns the Blacks, Millets, Ultimate Outdoors and Tiso stores, but these are not involved in the move to appoint administrators.

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