Stephen Bebis parts ways with Golf Town

Stephen Bebis, CEO and founder of Golftown, split with the company today.

Stephen Bebis, the founder of Canadian golf retail giant Golf Town, has parted ways with the company, sources at the company confirmed today. His departure surprised even those in senior roles at the retailer, which is the largest golf retail company in Canada by a significant margin. This afternoon there were few answers as to why Bebis was not in the CEO role any longer and senior executives at Golftown were at a loss to explain what had happened.

Earlier this year Bebis launched an initiative to move Golf Town into the U.S.:

“You can’t dabble in the U.S.,” Bebis said in an interview at the company’s Laird Ave. store in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood. “We’re not ‘testing’ the market. We’re committing. We’re going to be a household name within a year.” (source)

One has to wonder if the departure has something to do with the U.S. initiative or some other factor.

Golf Town, which was formed in 1999 by Bebis, who had previous big box retail experience with Aikenheads, tapped into the Canadian retail golf market in a way few others had tried. I recall going to the opening of the store in 1999 in Scarborough and being shocked by the vast size of it compared to the typical golf retailers I was used to. Bebis, an American, took the company public as an income trust before selling it to Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System in 2007 for a reported $240-million. He expanded the chain into the U.S. earlier this year.

Bebis was one chapter in my Going for the Green book, and a member at Magna Golf Club. He was known as being occasionally shy in social situations, but also ran through numerous senior executives at Golftown.

Regardless, Bebis changed the golf retail landscape in a way no one had previously. It’ll be interesting to see how steps into the role with his departure.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • As a regular shopper at GT, I have met Mr Bebis a few times while shopping. He was allways open to hearing what GT was doing right or wrong from me as a customer.

    I believe the venture into the USA was not the best move for GT. They could not become a “house hold name” in the states as is Edwin Watts is. GT does an excllent job as a retailer in Canada. They should stay focused on growing in Canada and keep the current stores in the states.

    Funny when Tim’s explanded in the North East in the states and ended up closing a bunch of stores due to lack luster sales in this region. Then this year, Don Schroeder was let go from Tim’s as the CEO. Now Steven is gone from GT after opening stores in the states.

    P.S I see Mike Weir is going to play on the Euro Tour when he recovers???

  • I always thought that Golf Town (Canada) and Golf Galaxy (US) were part of the same company. Their signage, store design, colouring, etc all seemed to be similar if not identical. It seems impossible that the two companies are separate.

  • I have never met Mr. Bebis, however, this comes as no surprise to me as numerous long tenure store managers across Canada have been terminated in recent months. I doubt he is solely responsible though may be the fall guy for it.

  • I agree Julie – he treated us the same way at JumboSports back in the 90s. His inner circle (Springer and McCaghren) were treated (and paid) very well – the rest of us in the corporate office (imho) – not so much. Steven Hall (first poster above) you as a shopper had seen and spoken with Bebis more than I did as an employee who worked the same, small building as him – congratulations.

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