Retail giant Sports Direct is to open its first store in Galway next month when it moves into the former Debenhams department store at Eyre Street.
The company, owned by UK businessman Mike Ashley has said for some time that it was looking for opportunities in Ireland where it already has more than 60 stores.
This new store to open in June will be ther first in Galway and comes as part of a major expansion by the group.
Owner Mike Ashley attempted to buy the Debenhams brand after the department store chain collapsed last year, but it is understood that Sports Direct have now secured a lease on the Galway building which was formerly the home of Roches Stores in the city.
However, the move has brought a boost for one city GAA clubs which is to be be sponsored by Sports Direct as part of its programme of sponsoring selected clubs and brands around the country.
In February, the retailer announced a €2 million, five-year sponsorship deal with Cork GAA and this week, a further five new clubs – including St James’ GAA - added to their portfolio, bringing their overall grassroots GAA support to 11 clubs nationwide.
Sports Direct said it planned to increase its sponsorship of grassroots Gaelic sport from five to 11 clubs nationwide.
Under the deal, Sports Direct will become an Official Supporter of the Galway club for the next three years until 2024.
The news for the local club also comes just one month before the opening of a new Sports Direct store in the heart of Galway city centre in June 2021, at Corrib Shopping Centre, with plans for further expansion throughout Ireland this year.
For the past three years, as part of Cycle 1 of their grassroots programme, Sports Direct has been proud Official Supporters of six GAA clubs across Ireland including: Glen Rovers (Cork ), Listry GAA (Kerry ), Ballygunner GAA (Waterford ), Clane GAA (Kildare ), St Dominic’s GAA (Roscommon ) and Bellaghy GAC (Derry ). Sports Direct has invested more than €250,000 into their support at this level to date, and today’s announcement further shows their commitment to local GAA as, with the launch of Cycle 2 of the programme, they will not only continue their support of their Cycle 1 clubs, but have also added support for Blessington GAA (Wicklow ), Cavan Gaels GAA (Cavan ), Geraldine’s GFC (Louth ), Rhode GAA (Offaly ) and St. James’ GAA (Galway ) into their grassroots fold.
The expansion of their grassroots GAA support in Ireland is a firm statement of intent by Sports Direct to continue to build and
Speaking about the announcement, Sports Direct’s Managing Director, Leonard Brassel said: “Over the past three years, we have been Official Supporters of six grassroots GAA clubs and we have nurtured positive relationships with each of them, which remain true and respectful to the principles and culture of these clubs.
“Today, we are incredibly proud to announce our expansion of this support for another three years and incorporating five more clubs, to bring the total number of clubs to 11 nationwide. As we continue to expand in the Irish market, the group couldn’t be prouder of our Grassroots Official Supporter programme. We are delighted to take this next step in our grassroots support, and help to support these clubs and communities who have such a passion for GAA. All of us at Sports Direct share this passion for Gaelic Games, and we look forward to working with all of these local clubs and celebrating the local success stories. We are especially thrilled to welcome St James’ GAA into the fold, and are really looking forward to celebrating the opening of our new Galway store in Corrib Shopping Centre this June.’’