Canadian Tire to shutter National Sports banner

The news comes as the retailer's non-sports divisions report gains in comparable sales and triple-digit ecommerce growth.

While Canadian Tire Corporation had plenty to feel positive about in the fourth quarter, the company has also announced plans to close its National Sports banner to try and turn things around in its sports division.

In an investor call going over the company’s Q4 results, CFO Gregory Craig said the move was being made to reduce overlapping business in sporting goods.

For its sporting division, comparable sales growth was down 3% in Q4, with revenue dipping by 2.3%. Revenue for the division was down 10.9% for the full year. But due to store closures amid the pandemic, Canadian Tire said in its release that it didn’t believe comparable sales growth was “a meaningful metric” for fiscal 2020.

The company attributed the decline to reduced promotional activity, temporary store closures and other pandemic-related restrictions that were tightened in many provinces in the second half of the quarter.

National Sports became part of Canadian Tire when it acquired the Forzani Group, now known as the company’s FGL division, in 2011. With the focus being on the Sport Check and Sport Experts banners since then, National Sports currently has 18 stores in Canada, and Craig said efforts would be made to relocate staff to other banners within the company.

Elsewhere within the company, the results were much more positive. Comparable sales were up 12.8% at Canadian Tire in Q4, driven by what it says was growth in 70% of the product categories it operates in and growth of 18% in its “owned brands” division – consisting of private label and exclusive brands. At Mark’s, sales were up 7.6%, with national brands performing particularly well.

Performance at Mark’s was also attributed to strong ecommerce sales, which continued to be an area growth across the company. Ecommerce sales were up 142% for the quarter, including 179% growth at Canadian Tire – for the full year, ecommerce sales were up 183% across the company and up 250% for Canadian Tire alone. The company added that its penetration rate for ecommerce has now doubled since 2019, with visits to ecommerce platforms up 50%.