Canada’s Warren Buffett buys retail landmarks

Rosedale’s Prem Watsa snaps up William Ashley’s and Sporting Life

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, headed up by Rosedale’s Prem Watsa, recently acquired a controlling stake in Sporting Life. Watsa will support plans by the original owners — and holders of the remaining stake — to expand their brand across the country.

“Today’s acquisition is consistent with our ongoing interest in acquiring strong, established franchises from entrepreneurial founders who want to find a long-term home for their business,” Watsa said.

Last year, Fairfax snapped up Prime Restaurants (East Side Mario’s and others) and the Yorkville-based William Ashley China. Watsa also was recently added to the struggling Research in Motion’s board of directors.

Sporting Life president, David Russell, said he and his partners were looking at ways to grow the high-end sporting goods business while still remaining involved in the company.

The deal will see Russell and his partners continue to oversee the day-to-day operations.

“The Fairfax people — they’re long-term holders. What we like about that is we can grow at a pace that’s appropriate,” Russell said.

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