Toronto's Sporting Life buys Ottawa's Tommy & Lefebvre

Ottawa sports retailer Tommy & Lefebvre has been purchased by the Toronto-based company Sporting Life, which signals the end for a local institution.

Flagship Ottawa store on Bank Street to close with new Sporting Life store at Lansdowne

Tommy & Lefebvre has been bought by Toronto-based sports retailer Sporting Life. (Google Streetview)

The Ottawa sports retailer Tommy & Lefebvre has been purchased by the Toronto-based company Sporting Life.

Both sides announced the deal late Tuesday morning, which signals the end for the Ottawa-based company.

In a statement, Tommy & Lefebvre said it would continue to manage itself with its own staff until the new Sporting Life store opens at Lansdowne.

That will be "at least a year," then staff and management from Tommy & Lefebvre will move to the new store.

The Tommy & Lefebvre location at the corner of Bank and McLeod streets — which was destroyed by fire in 2009 and later rebuilt — will then close its doors.

Decision made by widows of founders

The decision to sell the brand was made by the widows of the Tommy & Lefebvre founders.

"I’m still not sure what I feel yet, but mostly I am happy," wrote Tommy & Lefebvre vice-president Natalie Tommy in an email. "No longer do we stand alone. We have a great new team of friends we know well from our industry: veterans and retail doctors, so to speak, to work with, and some amazing new merchandise coming our way. That’s exciting."

"Sporting Life and Tommy & Lefebvre have been friends in the industry for over 34 years now," wrote Sporting Life co-founder Brian McGrath in a news release. "We saw more of an upside for customers and for us if there was a way to work together by merging their family into ours rather than be competitors in a business we both love."

Tommy & Lefebvre was founded in 1958 by World Cup skiers and Olympians Art and Andy Tommy. They were later joined by Reg Lefebvre.

Sporting Life hoping to expand across country

Natalie Tommy was named vice-president in 1985 and in 1994, after Art Tommy's death, his son-in-law Kevin Pidgeon became president.

Tommy & Lefebvre currently has three locations and 150 staff members.

Sporting Life was founded in 1979 and is managed by co-owners Patti Russell, Brian McGrath and David Russell. It has more than 600 employees working in four stores: three in the Greater Toronto Area and one in Collingwood.

Sporting Life said it's hoping to expand into other Canadian cities.