Launched in 1982 under the founder’s name, as Mike Ashley Sports, Sports Direct is now considered to be the UK’s top sporting goods retailer, responsible for revenues of around £2 billion per year.
Although growth was initially small, the turn of the millennium saw the company engage in an aggressive expansion campaign which eventually saw the business overtake rival JJB Sports, before eventually forcing the former industry-leader into insolvency.
Sports Direct’s business strategy has remained remarkably simple with the main aim of keeping prices as low as possible through any means possible, regardless of any effects it may have on public perception of the brand. This policy extends from holding as much stock as possible in their physical stores (with some complaining of the claustrophobic atmosphere this creates), through to having customer service terms that leave very little room for the return of products purchased.
In addition to their main operations, Sports Direct has begun to buy-out clothing manufacturers in recent years, and now counts Slazenger, Dunlop, Everlast and Kangol among the brands in its portfolio. Products by these companies – as well as an extensive range of football shirts, boots and gym clothing – are currently sold in the company’s 500 stores across the UK.
As well as their British and Irish operations, Sports Direct has begun to branch out to the wider world – and now has stores in France, Slovakia, South Africa and a number of other global destinations, while a sizeable chunk of their business is brought in through the SportsDirect.com website.