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Edwin Watts store in Tampa to close as part of bankruptcy sale

TAMPA — Call it a bogey for some golfers.

Golf equipment retailer Edwin Watts' Tampa store, at 11921 N Dale Mabry Highway, is closing as part of a recent sale of the struggling chain.

Edwin Watts filed for bankruptcy protection in November and later sold its assets to Hilco Merchant Resources and an affiliate of Worldwide Golf Shops for $40.8 million. Worldwide Golf Shops also owns Van's Golf Shops, Roger Dunn Golf Shops, the Golf Mart and other golf retailers.

Under terms of the sale, the new owners said they planned to close 42 underperforming stores. The other 48 locations, including the Tampa Bay area's other stores in Brandon and Palm Harbor, will continue to operate under the Edwin Watts name.

In announcing the Chapter 11 filing, Edwin Watts president and chief executive officer John Watson said the decline in the golf industry over the past five years had resulted in sluggish consumer demand. The first half of 2013 was particularly difficult, he said, because of a poor Florida golf season, bad spring weather and the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

The company listed estimated liabilities and assets of $100 million to $500 million.

The Edwin Watts chain was founded in the 1960s by a young golf pro of the same name in Fort Walton Beach. He was credited with expanding the typical pro shop merchandise of shirts and gloves to hard-to-find quality clubs.

An official with Hilco said in a statement that the acquisition of Edwin Watts will help Worldwide Golf Shops grow from a regional player to a national one. Whereas Edwin Watts' stores are primarily in the Southeast, Worldwide's are concentrated in California and Arizona, with a few in Hawaii and the Northeast.

No date has been set for the closure of the Tampa store. The liquidation sale started last week.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110. Follow @susan_thurston on Twitter.

Edwin Watts store in Tampa to close as part of bankruptcy sale 12/13/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 13, 2013 7:49pm]
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