Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

All Sport Mart stores to close doors

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THE Sport Mart banner is about to disappear from the Winnipeg scene forever.

The poorer sister to Sport Chek -- they're both owned by Calgary-based FGL Sports -- will shut its 60 stores across the country by the end of March. In Winnipeg, that means its last location on west Portage Avenue will be having some significant blowout sales before closing on March 17, according to Brendon Arnold, public relations specialist with FGL.

"This is all about growing our best-positioned and most strategic banners," he said. "It was a decision due to performance and demand."

The company is going to put all its eggs in the baskets of its higher-margin retailers -- Sport Chek and Atmosphere, a store focused on camping and outdoor recreation.

(Atmosphere doesn't have any locations in Manitoba, but it has a presence in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec.)

Sport Mart focuses on price-conscious consumers while Sport Chek tends to have a greater variety of products and a wider range of prices.

"We're going to be adding more than 100 Sport Chek and Atmosphere stores across the country over the next five years and opening more than two million square feet of real estate," he said.

Arnold said it was too early to tell what steps will be taken in Winnipeg or Manitoba.

The shutdown of Sport Mart won't come as a surprise to regular shoppers. FGL closed its Pembina Highway location near the University of Manitoba and another across from the Polo Park shopping centre a little more than two years ago. At the time, the company said its two remaining stores were profitable.

Then last year, its store at the Kildonan Place shopping centre was mothballed.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2013 A17

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