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Canadian Tire's FGL to add 100 new stores, close others

Customers head in and out of a Sport Chek store in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd.-owned FGL Sports plans an "aggressive" expansion of its most popular banners and total retail space over the next five years while closing more than 100 underperforming stores operating under various names.

The changes affect 115 corporate stores under such banners as Sport Mart, Athletes World, Nevada Bob's Golf, although 20 of those locations will be converted to a Sport Chek or Atmosphere store by early next year.

FGL Sports said it also intends to add more than 100 new Sport Chek and Atmosphere stores over the next five years representing more than two million square feet of new retail space.

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That would be equivalent to a more than 50-per-cent increase in retail space.

"For all store closures, the company will undertake efforts to retain as many employees as possible through transfers to converted or new stores," the company said in its announcement Wednesday.

Canadian Tire, which acquired the Forzani Group of sports stores last year, said that the closures do not involve any of FGL Sports franchise banners or franchise locations.

The company said FGL Sports will look to grow and develop Sports Experts, its largest franchise banner in Quebec, as well as all other franchise banners.

National Sports, a southern Ontario-based banner consisting of 18 team sports and hockey stores, will continue to operate in the Ontario market.

Canadian Tire is best known for its automotive, hardware and houseware offerings but it has also been a major source of sports equipment for the budget conscious. It also operates the Marks brand of clothing retailers.

In total, Canadian Tire has more than 1,700 retail and gasoline outlets from coast-to-coast employing some 58,000 people.

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The plan for FGL Sports calls for significant growth across Canada, notably in Ontario and specifically in the Greater Toronto Area where Canadian Tire said FGL Sports has been historically underrepresented.

"Our vision is to create unparalleled access and customer connections to make our banners the conduit to the best sports brands in the world," said Michael Medline, president of FGL Sports.

"Our growth strategy will further position Canadian Tire and FGL Sports as the ultimate authority in sports in Canada."

FGL Sports' current specialty stores — Nevada Bob's Golf and Hockey Experts — will continue to evolve into concept stores within Sport Chek, an initiative that has been underway for several years.

The pre-tax costs associated with the store closures are estimated at $26-million, which the majority of them expected to be recognized in the second quarter of this year, the company said.

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