Tenson is poised to expand more rapidly in international markets in the coming years, after the Swedish outdoor brand was acquired at undisclosed terms by Nedvest Capital, a Dutch investment firm.
Tenson was previously owned by the Unlimited Sports Group (USG), the leading Dutch sports retailer and wholesaler, which was declared bankrupt earlier this year. The Swedish brand was actually acquired in 2010 by shareholders of USG, but it appears that the ownership was then rapidly transferred to the USG group. Its receivers in the Netherlands decided to leave Tenson out of the bankruptcy proceedings, because the Swedish company was enjoying expansion in sales and profit, and that it operated almost independently from USG in the Netherlands, from its head office in Gothenburg.
The Amsterdam-based buyer describes itself as an investment firm with a hands-on mentality. Righard Atsma, partner at Nedvest, makes it clear in a statement that the company intends to be directly involved in Tenson. Nedvest managers were already in Gothenburg for talks with the Swedish group's leadership team two weeks ago.
So far Nedvest has no direct investment in the outdoor industry but one of the companies in which it owns shares specializes in products such as power banks for mobile phones, which are sold to key outdoor retailers. Some of Tenson's managers, led by chief executive Johan Lövqvist, are likely to take part in Tenson's share capital as well.
The Dutch firm was apparently attracted by the rapid expansion of the Swedish brand. Tenson's sales spurt in the last three years has been driven by growing demand in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, where it has offices, along with Belgium. The two USG employees who focused on Tenson in the Netherlands have switched to the Swedish company itself.
Tenson should gain further exposure in Sweden later this year with a launch in the Swedish stores of XXL, the Norwegian sports retailer. Then again, it remains to be seen in what way Dutch sales could be affected by Tenson's split from USG – an important customer through its Perrry Sport stores.
Tenson made a significant change in Germany last year when it sealed a distribution agreement with Katimpex. The company previously sold Didriksons, another Swedish outdoor brand, which decided to set up its own business in Germany.
The takeover by Nedvest could lead to faster development in several other markets. Two years ago Tenson moved into North America with Whiteland, a distributor from Montreal with agents in Canada and U.S. mountain areas. China is another major international market where Tenson started last year through a distribution deal with Snow Elan, which is strongly established in winter sports with the Elan ski brand and equipment for ski resorts.
The sale of Tenson was finalized at about the same time as the sale of Perry Sport and Aktiesport, the USG group's two major Dutch retail chains, which were bought by JD Sports Fashion. Perry Sport runs sizeable stores selling products for an array of sports, covering outdoor with international brands as well as Tenson and its private label, Wildebeast. Aktiesport consists of smaller stores selling mostly footwear and apparel.
JD Sports Fashion, which owns JD sports fashion stores as well as Blacks and several other sports and outdoor banners, said the deal was agreed for a cash consideration of €26.5 million excluding fees, retention of title and other claims arising upon the bankruptcy process. As previously reported, Perry Sport and Aktiesport were declared bankrupt on Feb. 23 along with the USG group, and several other entities went into receivership a few days later.
The British retailer said in a statement that Aktiesport and Perry Sport jointly had 187 stores in the Netherlands, of which 55 will close shortly after the termination of the leases by the bankruptcy trustee. JD added that the two retailers delivered aggregated revenues of €159.4 million in 2014, with an operating profit of €1.5 million, profit before tax of €0.2 million and gross assets of €67.4 million.
JD already has 16 stores and a Dutch-language online store in the Netherlands, as part of the business it has been building up in several European countries in the last decade, through acquisitions and store openings. It remains to be seen if the British retailer intends to convert any of the Dutch stores into JD and other group banners, such as Size? or Blacks. JD is owned at a majority by the Pentland group, the British company that owns Berghaus.
The deal was formally agreed between the receivers of USG and a new subsidiary of the JD Sports Fashion group, Unlimited Retail BV. The assets acquired chiefly consist of inventories, fixtures, fittings and intellectual property, which is to be purchased from cash resources. The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has cleared the deal.
Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD Sports, said in the statement that the acquisition of these well-established retailers would strengthen the group's presence in the Dutch market, in line with ambitions to increase its European footprint. The two companies were already in contact due to an agreement for USG to sell the Ellesse brand in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile the assets of Primo Stadion, a chain of sports stores belonging to USG in Belgium, that was declared bankrupt a few days after Perry Sport and Aktiesport, will probably be purchased by Sports Direct International (SDI). One of the receivers for Primo confirmed that a framework agreement had been reached for the takeover.
The Primo chain formerly consisted of 26 stores but it could not be established exactly how many stores are to be taken over. SDI is already a major player in the Belgian sports market, second only to Decathlon.
The retailers lost two of their largest customers earlier this year when two other Dutch retailers went bankrupt – the shoe retailer Scapino and the V&D department stores, in which Aktiesport and Perry Sport had shop-in-shops. The Dutch receiver, Toni van Hees from Stibbe, said from the start that he preferred a sale in a single deal, which he thought more judicious for the 2,500 staff. The stores have remained open.
Kreplin & Partner, a German law firm, said last month that it was appointed as temporary receiver for four German companies related to the USG group, which were declared insolvent on March 8 by a court in Düsseldorf. They are involved in wholesale activities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and generated sales of about €15 million last year, while the whole USG group's sales amounted to €246 million.