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Golf Town looks to veteran retail expert to steer turnaround efforts

Customers shop at Golf Town's First Markham Place location in this file photo.

Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Golf Town, which is operating under court protection from its creditors, is counting on a veteran retail restructuring expert to steer its turnaround when the chain emerges from the insolvency process.

Golf Town, which is to be acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., will name as chairman Bill Gregson, who has led turnarounds at furniture retailer the Brick and restaurant specialist Cara Operations Ltd., whose chains include Swiss Chalet and Harvey's.

As well, Golf Town will appoint as president Chad McKinnon, a seasoned sporting goods merchant who was most recently chief operating officer at Canadian Tire's FGL Sports sporting division. Mr. Gregson also previously led FGL's predecessor, Forzani Group, before it was acquired by Canadian Tire.

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The Canadian Tire link goes deeper at Golf Town. David Roussy, chief executive officer of Golfsmith International Holdins Inc., the U.S. parent of Golf Town, is a former Canadian Tire executive.

Last month when Golf Town filed for court protection, it said it had a deal to be sold to its debt holders Fairfax and CI Investments Inc. Golfsmith also filed for bankruptcy protection south of the border, opening the way for it to shut 20 of its 109 stores by the end of October, with other closings or downsizings being contemplated.

In Canada, Golf Town is planning to close or shrink an undisclosed number of stores while letting go some employees.

Golf Town, this country's largest specialty golf retailer, has struggled with falling sales and profits amid declining interest in the sport. But Golf Town has fared better than its U.S. parent, which faces even tougher competition.

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