Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

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

Kevin Van Paassen

Golf Town, Canada's largest golf retailer, is set to be sold as its struggling U.S. parent company files for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday.

Investment firms Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and CI Financial Corp. plan to acquire the Canadian operations of Golfsmith International Holdings Inc., which consist of more than 50 stores across the country, the sources said. Both firms are current Golfsmith debt holders. Golfsmith also has more than 100 stores in the U.S.; it is not clear what will happen to this part of the business. It confirmed Wednesday that it has filed for protection in the U.S. and under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in Canada with the aim to restructure and shrink its store network, particularly south of the border.

Golf Town has been owned by Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System's private equity arm since 2007 when it bought the chain for $240-million including debt. The company had 32 stores at the time.

Story continues below advertisement

Then in 2012, OMERS combined Golf Town with the U.S. Golfsmith business in a deal that added a heavier load of debt.

OMERS is not expected to retain an equity stake in Golf Town under the terms of the deal. Officials from the pension fund could not immediately comment.

The business of selling golf supplies has been challenged in recent years by stagnant sales and slowing growth of the sport. But as this country's largest specialty golf retailer, Golf Town has cornered a niche market while south of the border Golfsmith faces stiffer competition.

In Canada, Golf Town's major rival, Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., which owns Sport Chek and other sporting goods chains, carries golf products but has closed its standalone Nevada Bob's Golf stores.

Representatives from CI and Fairfax could not immediately be reached for comment.

Canadian Tire, which was seen as a would-be buyer of Golf Town, would not comment last month.

Golf Town has shown signs of a turnaround in the past year or so after David Roussy took the top job at Golfsmith, sources close to the company have said. He is a former executive of Toronto-based Canadian Tire and has a better feel for this domestic market, they have said. He has moved managers back to Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

Golf Town has sharpened product and marketing strategies to better reflect Canadian consumer demand by, for instance, focusing more on fashion and lower prices, the company said last month.

Golf Town's $100-million (U.S.) takeover of the larger Golfsmith in 2012 went awry as the struggling U.S. chain subsequently took over management of Golf Town, running the Canadian chain from its head office in Austin, Tex., industry observers have said.

Golfsmith acknowledged in an e-mailed statement last month that "the last few years have been challenging for golf retailers, as a whole, and this includes Golfsmith."

Still, the privately held company said it has made changes to its Golf Town team and approach – bringing management back from Austin to the operations here and responding better to domestic consumer demand – resulting in "strong momentum" at Golf Town. It said it has enjoyed year-to-date sales growth at outlets open a year or more – a critical retail measure – and "material increases in online revenue and strong profit improvement."

Golf Town and Golfsmith officials could not immediately be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies