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Dunlop Sports brand sold to Japanese conglomerate

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English actor, Robson Green, was the face behind the launch of Dunlop Sport’s fishing range.

Dunlop Sports, one of the world’s best known sporting brands, has been sold by its owner – UK-based retail giant Sports Direct – in a transaction worth $137.5 million.

Better known for its tennis, golf, squash and badminton gear, Dunlop entered the angling market in 2012 with a range of coarse fishing tackle following a marketing and promotional campaign headed up by British TV actor and angling fanatic, Robson Green.

The brand has now been sold to Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), which is part of the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation that owns a vast array of businesses across a number of sectors, including construction, media, minerals, food, retail and finance.

SRI already owns the rights to Dunlop in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, alongside sharing the US rights with Sports Direct.

The divestment of the Dunlop Sports business is in line with Sports Direct’s stated aspiration to become the ‘Selfridges’ of sports retail, including its renewed focus on its core UK business and the development of its relationships with third party brands.

In a statement issued to the London Stock Exchange, the company stated that in light of its new priorities Sports Direct does not currently have the ‘bandwidth’ to develop and manage international brands simultaneously. The transaction is expected to be completed before May 31st this year.

Mike Ashley, Sports Direct owner, bought the Dunlop brand, then known as Dunlop Slazenger, in 2004 in a deal said to be worth £40 million.


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