Forzani on track

CALGARY — Sporting goods retailer Forzani Group Ltd. (TSX:FGL) plans to roll out dozens of new stores this year, despite reporting lower fourth-quarter and full-year profits Wednesday.

CALGARY — Sporting goods retailer Forzani Group Ltd. (TSX:FGL) plans to roll out dozens of new stores this year, despite reporting lower fourth-quarter and full-year profits Wednesday.

The Calgary-based company, which owns more than 560 stores across Canada under several banners including Sport Chek, Athletes World and Coast Mountain Sports, said it plans to open up at least 14 new corporate stores and 12 new franchise stores this year.

While consumers are spending more cautiously during the recession, chief executive Bob Sartor said Wednesday the economic downturn presents some opportunities for Forzani to grow its business.

The insolvency of Linens ’n Things has opened up coveted retail spaces in Toronto and Calgary for Forzani to set up shop, Sartor said.

“We expect there’s going to be more such opportunities during the year and it is our intention to basically go after these once-in-a-decade opportunities to get into phenomenal malls at great rates,” he said.

Attractive takeover opportunities will likely also be presenting themselves, Sartor added.

“Certainly a lot of the smaller players who previously were doing very well as small standalone players in a stronger economy are having difficulty in a weaker economy,” he said.

“We have a great opportunity to do a couple of tuck-in acquisitions either in categories we don’t play strongly in today or give us access to brands that we don’t have today.”

In addition to adding new stores, Forzani has also been focused revamping existing ones, said chief operating officer Tom Quinn.

“The presentation standards in our Sport Chek and Coast Mountain banners have . . . seen significant improvement with the addition of brand boutiques, improved product assortments and the leadership of our operations team to significantly improve our store standards,” he told the call.

“We’ve also seen considerable improvements in our National Sports and Athletes World stores throughout the country.”

The company has also scrapped its commission-based payroll system, with store sales staff making customer service more of a priority.

Forzani has tested six Nevada Bob’s Golf concept shops located within Sport Check stores.

The outcome has been so successful that Quinn said Forzani will be adding another 21 locations.

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