JD Sports Fashion, based in the United Kingdom, has agreed to acquire the Irish store chain Champion. Bury-based JD Sports also said it had agreed to advance EUR 17.1 million ($23.4 mm) as a secured loan to allow Champion's outstanding debts to be settled.

Champion was founded in 1992 and is one of the leading retailers of
sports apparel and footwear in the Republic of Ireland with 22 stores in
premium locations in town centres and shopping centres. With its base
near Dublin, Champion is well represented throughout the Republic of
Ireland. In addition, Champion has one store in Northern Ireland. Prior
to this acquisition, JD has a limited presence in the Republic of
Ireland with only eight stores.

Champion's experienced management team, headed by CEO John Quinn, who will all be retained after the acquisition, will bring an enhanced local knowledge to the operations of the JD stores in the Republic of Ireland.

For the year ended 31 December 2009, Champion had a turnover of EUR 54.0m, an operating loss of EUR 1.8m, a loss before tax of EUR 4.9m and gross assets of EUR 36.2m. JD Sports said the performance of the Champion business has been adversely impacted in recent years by the decline in the Irish economy and an inflexible fixed property cost base which we intend to continue to address. However, the JD Board expects that the Champion acquisition will be earnings enhancing in future years after investment in the store portfolio and the realisation of operational synergies.

Peter Cowgill, Executive Chairman of JD, said: “We are very pleased to announce that we have exchanged contracts for the acquisition of Champion, which will give us an enhanced presence in the Republic of Ireland. By drawing on the current management team's expertise and local knowledge, we are confident that this acquisition will bring financial benefits in the future.”

The acquisition follows JD's takeover of French shoe retailer Chausport and the Canterbury rugby brand in 2009, and brands including Sonneti, Chilli Pepper and Nanny State last year.