News Column

Edwin Watts store in Lakewood Ranch closing, Worldwide Golf acquires chain

February 19, 2014

By Sabrina Rocco, The Bradenton Herald

Feb. 19--LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Edwin Watts Golf store at 6230 Lake Osprey Drive is closing as part of a shutdown of 40 stores in 13 states.

Fort Walton Beach-based Edwin Watts, a golf equipment retailer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year and announced last month that it sold its assets to Hilco Merchant Resources and Santa Ana-based Worldwide Golf. Edwin Watts Golf owed a total of $25 million to creditors, court records show.

Worldwide Golf spokesman John Kopacz said the decision was based on "sales and profitability." An Edwin Watts Golf spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

The almost-empty Edwin Watts is awash in blaring red signs that read "STORE CLOSING" and "NOTHING HELD BACK." The liquidation sale, which ends March 1, features 35 to 50 percent off all items, including store fixtures.

Paul Insco was shopping for shoes Monday. He scored a $119 pair of FootJoy golf shoes for nearly $75. Insco, who lives in Lakewood Ranch, was disappointed that the store is closing.

"The local golfers are certainly not happy about it because the next closest one is on Tamiami Trail," he said.

The Edwin Watts Golf at 4014 South Tamiami Trail will remain open and continue to operate under the name, Kopacz said.

"This acquisition will ... give Worldwide Golf a national presence in the very competitive golf retail landscape, as Edwin Watts Golf provides us with the leading Southeast golf specialty retailer and rounds out our formidable stable of brands that now operate from coast to coast," said Al Morris, president of Worldwide Golf, in a statement.

The Lakewood Ranch store will become one of 86 Worldwide Golf-owned stores across the country. Worldwide Golf also owns Roger Dunn Golf Shops, The Golf Mart, Van's Golf Shops and Golfers' Warehouse.

Edwin Watts Golf opened its first store in 1968 in Fort Walton Beach and went on to become the dominant golf retailer in the region.

No date has been set for the closure of the Lakewood Ranch store.

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@sabrinarocco.


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Source: Bradenton Herald (FL)

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