Manchester United to open 150 stores

MANCHESTER UNITED, which has accepted a pounds 623m takeover bid by British Sky Broadcasting, is planning to open 150 stores around the world over the next three years in an attempt to cash in on its large international supporter base.

The company has linked up with Nuance Global Traders, a subsidiary of Swissair, to put Manchester United shops in airports. The first will open in Dublin airport next month. Stores in Copenhagen and Hong Kong are planned for next year.

Peter Kenyon, Manchester United's deputy chief executive, said the football club was planning to join forces with other retailing groups to help it expand. It is targeting Ireland, Scandinavia and the Far East as its key markets.

He added that the stores would require "some fresh investment" from Manchester United but that the club was mostly lending its brand to the stores. The club is planning three different retail formats: a large megastore, a smaller stand-alone store, and a compact format that would fit inside other shops.

Manchester United yesterday reported a sharp drop in profits as a result of heavy transfer spending over the summer. In the 12 months to July, profits fell to pounds 14.1m from pounds 27.6m in the previous year.