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Lids acquiring Kentucky sporting goods chain

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A Kentucky-based string of sporting goods clothing stores has been acquired by Lids Sports Group, a national chain based in Indianapolis.

Members of the Dawahare family sold Lexington-based Fan Outfitters last week for an undisclosed price. The deal includes the three Fan Outfitters stores in Lexington, two in Louisville, and two in Oklahoma and the company's online presence.

Fan Outfitters co-founder Stephen Dawahare told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the new owners have kept on all the Fan Outfitters employees. Dawahare says Lids Sports Group is positioned to grow the Fan Outfitters brand.

Lids operates more than 1,000 retail stores across the country and in Canada and Puerto Rico. It is a subsidiary of Genesco Inc., a publicly traded company based in Nashville.

Dawahare, the CEO of iVisionary, a private equity firm that helped fund Fan Outfitters, said new regulations imposed by the Affordable Care Act prompted the group to look at the offer from Lids. The group thought that company would be better positioned to grow the Fan Outfitters brand, he said.

Fan Outfitters had several previous offers to buy the operation but turned them down, Dawahare said.

"The unfortunate fact is that due to a number of policies that have been implemented recently, it has become tougher to grow businesses," Dawahare said.

Fan Outfitters grew out of the Dawahare's department stores, a longtime Kentucky retailer that, at its height, had 31 stores across the state from Pikeville to Paducah. The last of the Dawahare stores closed in 2008.

In 2009, two Dawahare cousins partnered with former University of Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch to start Fan Outfitters. Their first store opened in Lexington that September.

"The business was doing extremely well," Dawahare said.

Ken Kocher, president of Lids Sports Group, said in a written statement that Fan Outfitters fit the group's overall strategy to build national retail sports clothing stores that cater to local fans.

"This acquisition allows us to immediately build on the relationship that both Fan Outfitters and Lids brand have established with Kentucky, Louisville and Oklahoma fans," Kocher said.

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