Holdsport, a company formerly known as Moresport that runs 33 Sportmans Warehouse and 18 Outdoor Warehouse stores in South Africa, went public on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The transaction gave the company a valuation of about 1.33 billion rand (€136.3m-$196.4m), resulting in a small capital gain for its major shareholder, Ethos Private Equity, which paid ZAR 681 million (€69.8m-$100,6m) in 2006 to acquire a 67 percent stake in Holdsport and its debt in a management-led buyout.

Ethos raised ZAR 930 million (€95.3m-$137.3m) by placing 30 million Holdsport shares at the introduction price of 31 rand, which was at the bottom of the target range of 31-39 rand. The retailer has been growing at a compounded annual rate of 12.6 percent in the past five years, reaching a level of 1.13 billion rand (€115.9m-$166.8m) in the latest one. The operating margin on its core operations increased to 20.6 percent before amortization (Ebitda) and to 18.6 percent before interest (Ebit) in the past year.

Besides its 51 stores in South Africa and one in Namibia, it also has a strategic investment in First Ascent, an independent supplier of technical sports apparel. No major changes in strategy are expected as a result of the stock market listing. The management, led by Kevin Hodgson, plans to open between three and five new stores a year, and to explore e-commerce. The product range, which is already very broad, may be widened further.

Holdsport claims a market share of 10 to 15 percent in South Africa. Its big Wal-Mart-type stores stock mainly international brands. Other South African retail chains have more stores, but they tend to carry a narrower assortment of products.

The first big Sportsmans Warehouse opened in Rondebosch in 1986. Its founders sold the company 10 years later. In 1998, when it had only six stores, the operation was merged with another bigger sporting goods retail chain, Totalsports, and then floated on the stock exchange. Holdsport has no connection with Totalsports anymore.