JD Sports Furious As Regulator Orders It To Sell Footasylum

JD Sports Furious As Regulator Orders It To Sell Footasylum

What just happened?

The CMA was ordered to sell Footasylum, a retail sneaker competitor that the company bought in 2019 after the regulator again found that Footasylum reduced competition among street buyers. The CMA will oversee the sale of Footasylum which has been fully integrated into JD Sports, and must approve the new buyer to ensure it acts as a true competitor if JD Sports does not appeal. (1)

What does this mean?   

JD Sports companies reacted with anger at the final decision of the competition inspector that they should sell Footasylum chain, which they acquired for £ 90 million in 2019. JD challenged the initial findings in which they should ditch the sportswear brand for fear it would lead to worse deals for shoppers. (2)

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released its decision after a long investigation, which found that JD's appeal is a unique discovery that should ditch the sportwear model for fear that it could lead to worse sales for customers. The British competition oversight body has been furiously pursuing the goal of blocking an alleged purchase of PS 90 million from the sportswear retailer JD Sports of its rival Footasylum. (3)

Both formed companies have invested heavily in online retail, disrupting supermarkets that previously served as intermediaries. John Wardle and David Makin founded the first JD Sports store in Mossley, Lancashire in 1981 and eventually left in 2005. Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD Sports said the regulatory decision was "inexplicable" in the context of the pandemic when the temporary closure of stores prompted more shoppers to switch to online shopping. (4) [Sources: 8, 15]

How does this impact the legal sector?

The authorities say the two sporting goods retailers selling online and offline in the UK are very close substitutes. JD Sports was ordered to sell Footasylum, a retail sneaker competitor the company bought in 2019 after the regulator once again found that the takeover reduced competition among street buyers. The retailer reacted furiously, saying that the decision was "inexplicable" and "defied logic". (5)

The CMA's final decision to block the acquisition of JD Sports Footasylum 18 months after the original purchase will be a blow to JD Sports, which has struggled to prove that the purchase will not harm consumers or reduce competition in the UK sportwear market.Steve Smith discussed the competition in the UK and the concerns of market authorities over the JD Sports acquisition of rival Footasylum.Subsequently, the CMA stated that many Footasylum buyers view JD Sports as the best alternative, with Nike as the next in line. CMA's decision was based on results showing that a street fashion retailer is by far the closest alternative for Footasylum shoppers. (6)

In a CMA survey, 50% of online shoppers said they would go to JD Sports if they can't shop at Footasylum, while 43% said they would switch if they could no longer buy shoes at Footasylum. (7)

The CMA concluded that the sale of Footasylum generally constitutes an effective and proportionate remedy against the identified problems. With regard to the impact of Covid-19, the CMA determined that the extent and duration of the pandemic was uncertain and therefore could not determine with sufficient certainty whether its effects would have a lasting impact on the market structure. The CMA also noted that all retailers in their respective markets would be subject to the same changing market conditions, and did not anticipate that the impact of Covid-19 could significantly reduce competition. (8)

The CMA also issues another cautionary note, noting that [even] significant short-term economic turmoil at industry level may not be enough to ignore competition concerns caused by constant structural changes in the market, as they could have been raised by merging. (9)

The Legists Content Team

Assessing Firms:

#Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP #Linklaters LLP #Slaughter and May #Allen & Overy LLP #Clifford Chance LLP #Herbert Smith Freehills LLP #Ashurst #Baker McKenzie #Hogan Lovells International LLP #Latham & Watkins #Macfarlanes LLP #Norton Rose Fulbright #Pinsent Masons LLP

1 https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/nov/04/jd-sports-furious-as-regulator-orders-it-to-sell-footasylum

2 https://digitpatrox.com/jd-sports-fury-as-regulators-order-chain-to-sell-footasylum-business-news/ and https://www.channel103.com/news/business-and-finance/jd-sports-fury-as-regulators-order-chain-to-sell-footasylum/

3 https://digitpatrox.com/jd-sports-fury-as-regulators-order-chain-to-sell-footasylum-business-news/ and https://www.heraldscotland.com/business_hq/18432638.jd-boss-vents-fury-watchdog-orders-footasylum-sale/

4 https://jaituss.com/jd-sports-furious-as-regulator-orders-it-to-sell-footasylum/ and https://remonews.com/kenya/jd-sports-furious-as-regulator-orders-him-to-sell-footasylum-jd-sports-fashion/

5 https://qz.com/2084774/jd-sports-is-forced-to-sell-footasylum-on-cma-antitrust-concerns/ and https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/nov/04/jd-sports-furious-as-regulator-orders-it-to-sell-footasylum

6 https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-watchdog-says-findings-support-move-block-jd-sports-takeover-footasylum-2021-09-02/, https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-10164519/JD-Sports-ordered-ditch-Footasylum-competition-watchdog.html and https://www.mondaq.com/pressrelease/76918/JD-Sports-And-Footasylum-Merger-Stephen-Smith-Quoted-In-Global-Competition-Review

7 https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-10164519/JD-Sports-ordered-ditch-Footasylum-competition-watchdog.html and https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/latest-thinking/jd-sports-appeals-cma-prohibition-decision-citing-impact-of-covid-19-as-a-key

8 https://hsfnotes.com/crt/2020/11/18/partial-win-for-jd-sports-in-the-cat-on-covid-19-grounds/ and https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/latest-thinking/jd-sports-appeals-cma-prohibition-decision-citing-impact-of-covid-19-as-a-key

9 https://www.reedsmith.com/en/perspectives/2020/05/the-cma-blocks-jd-sports-acquisition-of-footasylum and https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/latest-thinking/jd-sports-appeals-cma-prohibition-decision-citing-impact-of-covid-19-as-a-key



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