Belfast Telegraph

Sports Direct lashes out at CMA over probe into JD Sports-Footasylum deal

Mike Ashley claimed the Competition and Markets Authority published ‘incorrect estimates’ of Sports Direct’s market share data.

Sports Direct (Yui Mok/PA)
Sports Direct (Yui Mok/PA)

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has attacked the competition watchdog over its investigation into the takeover of Footasylum by JD Sports.

Sports Direct claimed the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published “incorrect estimates” of its market share data in its analysis of the £90 million deal.

The watchdog is looking at whether competition will be reduced following the acquisition of the high street retailer.

The CMA has launched an in-depth phase two investigation after the regulator warned the deal could lead to “higher prices, less choice and a worse shopping experience for customers”.

Sports Direct said the analysis “wrongly suggests that Sports Direct would have a comparable market share of supply to the merged parties” in the sports-casual clothing and footwear categories.

The retail giant said the CMA “substantially overstates” its presence in each of these markets.

It said it “does not have a meaningful, if any” presence in these two retail markets.

Mr Ashley called for a “correction” of its market share data by the watchdog during the second stage of the investigation.

He said: “I have been watching this from the sidelines to date and now, having had the opportunity of considering the CMA decision, I would now welcome the opportunity to provide the CMA with the correct market data.

“For example, our market share of Adidas Originals in Sports Direct is virtually zero.”

A CMA spokesman said: “The CMA has just begun its in-depth examination of this deal.

“As with all its phase two inquiries, companies will have ample opportunity to submit any relevant evidence and information for the independent group to consider.”

In its phase one investigation, the watchdog noted that its market share figures for Sports Direct were “estimates only and may overstate Sports Direct’s shares of supply in the relevant markets”.

Earlier this month, Sports Direct called for a wide-ranging investigation into the dominance of Adidas and Nike in the sportswear industry.

The firm said the “must-have” brands hold a bargaining position which allows them to control supply and price of their products.