Sports Direct has taken an 18.9 per cent stake in Kitbag parent company Findel, almost a year after Mike Ashley first started eyeing up the football strip retailer.
The move comes as Findel confirmed it had received an approach for the sports retail business from an unnamed third party and had “agreed terms, subject to contract”.
Findel's share price has soared on the news, up 11.6 per cent in early trading. Sports Direct's share price was down 0.9 per cent.
Kitbag, which sells republic club shirts, was put up for sale last year as it worked with KPMG to offload the loss-making business.
But sales improved over Christmas, “substantially” reducing its operating loss, and back in May Findel said it had decided to keep the sports retail business, saying it would be in the best interests of shareholders to develop Kitbag within the group.
David Sugden, Findel executive chairman, said at the time: “Kitbag has delivered a substantial recovery in its underlying operations and contract base after the renegotiation of legacy contracts, and has started to capitalise on the significant international growth opportunities open to the business.
“We are confident that Kitbag will continue to build on the recovery to date.”
As well as owning more than half of Sports Direct, Ashley also owns Newcastle United and a chunk of Rangers.
It was first revealed he was looking at buying Kitbag last November, although JD Sports was also believed to be a rival suitor at the time.
Findel has three divisions: education, Express Gifts and Kitbag.