JD Sports Fashion’s Acquisition of The Finish Line “Transformational”

For runners, the adage is: “There is no finish line.”

For athletic retailer The Finish Line, the same is true and its future just took a dramatic stride forward this week after JD Sports Fashion, the leading European retailer of sports, fashion, and outdoor brands, acquired 100 percent of the company for a total equity value of approximately $558 million.

Peter Cowgill, Executive Chairman of JD, is ecstatic about the acquisition.

“We are extremely excited to be joining up with Finish Line, a well-established U.S. operator,” Cowgill said in the release. “The acquisition represents an excellent opportunity for JD to establish its market leading multi-brand proposition in the world’s largest athleisure market. It immediately offers a major presence in the U.S., a clear next step to further increase our global scale. Finish Line has many similarities to JD with a strong bricks and mortar offering complemented by an advanced and well-invested digital platform. We are looking forward to working with Finish Line’s experienced management team to bring best-in-class retail theatre to the U.S. Our combined extensive knowledge of the retail market and our product and marketing relationships with global brand partners will benefit our customers, in turn supporting the continued future growth of JD. This is a landmark day for JD and will be transformational for the business.”

Headquartered in Indianapolis, Finish Line runs approximately 930 branded locations in U.S. malls and shops inside Macy’s department stores. Finish Line employs approximately 13,000 associates who connect customers to sneaker culture through style and sport.

Evan Magliocca, brand marketing manager for Baseman Insights & Marketing, told Loyalty360 that JD’s acquisition of The Finish Line opens the United States market to the European retailer.

“The U.S. might seem to have a saturated market with so many athleisure brands, but it’s the largest customer-base with more room for growth,” Magliocca explained. “The acquisition also enables JD to utilize the logistics and distribution that The Finish Line has already built—that alone makes the purchase worthwhile for a brand trying to break into a new market.” 

For Finish Line’s year ended Feb. 25, 2017, it recorded revenue of $1.84 billion. For Finish Line’s year ended March 3, 2018, it also recorded revenue of $1.84 billion.

“This provides an excellent strategic fit for Finish Line and JD,” according to a release announcing the deal. “Finish Line moves into a stronger position to compete as part of a global enterprise that leads in the industry. JD gains a significant physical and online retail presence with direct access in the U.S., which they have long identified as a highly attractive growth opportunity. Finish Line and JD together create a leading global, premium, multichannel retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands who embraces the latest online and in-store digital technology.” 

The combined purchasing power of Finish Line and JD, coupled with the strategic alignment with major international sportswear brands in North America, is expected, on completion, to enable the enlarged group to bring a highly differentiated multichannel retail proposition to the U.S. market, the release says. 

Upon closing of the agreement, the Finish Line executive team will continue their involvement with the business. 

Finish Line CEO Sam Sato said in the release that his company has long admired JD and its commitment to serve customers with premium brands through a unique and innovative retail experience.

“We are thrilled to partner with them and look forward to realizing the impact we will have on the marketplace together,” Sato added.

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