The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has referred Sports Direct International plc’s acquisition of 31 stores from JJB Sports plc to the Competition Commission (CC). The CC has been asked to decide whether the acquisition may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the UK.

Sports Direct and JJB are the two largest specialist retailers of sports-related clothing, footwear and equipment in the UK. The OFT’s investigation earlier this year found that the acquisitions raised competition concerns in five local areas where Sports Direct already had stores. Sports Direct offered to divest stores in these areas to upfront buyers approved by the OFT, in lieu of a reference to the CC, but has been unable to do so in the required timescale. The CC is expected to report by 21 January 2010.