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September 2004

Leading Golf Retailer Tees up for Expansion Drive

New Executive Management Team Announced at American Golf

American Golf Discount Centre Limited (“American Golf”), Europe’s market leader in golf equipment retailing,

announces that a new executive management team, led by Jonathan Fellows and backed by LDC and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), has acquired a majority interest in the business with the intention of accelerating its new store opening programme to further advance its retail store network and market leadership.

American Golf commenced trading in the late 1970s and has since grown into the largest and leading specialist golf retailer in the UK and Europe. Now serving over 1 million customers a year and trading from more than 60 outlets, it operates the UK‘s premier nationwide retail chain of specialist golf equipment stores, selling a comprehensive range of clubs, bags, balls, clothing and accessories supplied by major golf brands, such as Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, Ping, Wilson, Mizuno, Powakaddy, Maxfli, Nike and adidas.

The outstanding success of American Golf is due to its extensive range of branded products, its value for money offer, its expert professional advice in store and its unique free personal club fitting service. All American Golf staff are passionate about golf, which is reflected in the company having been voted Best Golf Retailer for the last 5 years in a row.

In the financial year ended 26 January 2004, annual sales were up 21% to £63.7 million, which resulted in operating profits of £6.7 million. The owners Howard Bilton and Tony Norton have agreed to sell a majority interest in the business to a new executive team, led by Jonathan Fellows and backed by LDC. They intend to grow the business over the next five years by opening at least 25 further new stores, by relocating some existing outlets, developing the retail store format, and enhancing the product offer, promotion and merchandising.

Following completion of the transaction, Tim Brookes, current Chairman and former CEO of Jessops the UK’s leading specialist photography chain, will become Chairman of American Golf and Martin Draper, Director of LDC, will also join the new Board. Howard Bilton and Tony Norton will step down from the Board but will continue a close involvement as consultants to the business.

Jonathan Fellows, new Chief Executive of American Golf said:
“American Golf is already the UK’s leading golf specialist, reflecting a unique combination of expert professional advice and services, the most comprehensive range of golf equipment and accessories and an exceptional value proposition.

I am extremely excited about the opportunity ahead and delighted to join LDC, RBS and the new team in providing American Golf with the resources to accelerate its successful expansion. We have opened 6 new stores in the past twelve months, and intend to add a further 6 more by the end of 2005, creating additional jobs and providing significant career development opportunities for our current 400 employees.”

Martin Draper, Director at LDC said:

“American Golf is exactly the kind of business we like to invest in – well-established in its field, capable of significant growth by organic expansion and led by a committed and professional management team. With a trading format which clearly appeals to its customers, and with our provision of additional financial resources, we can work together to achieve a significant acceleration of American Golf’s development.”

Tony Norton on behalf of the sellers said:

“We have been considering our options for some time, seeking to realise some of the shareholder value we have built up in the business and to reduce our day to day involvement without relinquishing our interest totally. We are pleased to have reached this agreement with LDC and the new management team and we look forward to seeing the business growth accelerate based on the sound foundations and the service, range and value proposition tha

 

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