JD Sports Fashion is understood to have bought a majority stake in south-east England independent chain Choice, as the sportswear giant continues to battle against rival Sports Direct to take a larger chunk of the clothing market.
Founded by Laurence Davis in 1993, Choice sells men’s, women’s and children’s wear in its five stores – two in Lakeside, and one each in Westfield Stratford City, Bluewater and Romford – as well as its website. It stocks brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Stone Island and Ugg.
Documents filed on Companies House show JD Sports’ executive chairman Peter Cowgill, chief financial officer and executive director Brian Small and commercial director of its fashion division Peter Alecock, formerly managing director of Bank Fashion, have become directors of Choice. It is understood that Davis will remain part of the business.
In its latest company accounts, Choice reported sales of £20.5m for the year to 30 April 2017, up from £17.1m in 2015/16. Pre-tax profits reached £389,265, down from £456,311 from the year before.
A statement on the accounts said: “Despite the challenging economic climate, the company has continued to grow following the decision in 2014/15 to close loss-making stores and focus attention on those that were profit making and the online store that was newly established.”
Choice is the latest addition to the JD Sports portfolio. Earlier this year it bought US retailer The Finish Line for $588m (£396m) adding to its other fascias including Tessuti, Size?, Footpatrol, Mainline and Scotts.
One source said: “For [Laurence] it’s sensible as it’s going to be a battle over brands and Flannels will win.”
Sports Direct operates 21 Flannels stores, and plans to open between six and 12 more before the end of next April. The Mike Ashley-owned group also runs 10 Cruise stores and three Van Mildert stores.
Choice and JD Sports Fashion both declined to comment.