Vestis Retail Group LLC, the Meridian, Conn.-based retail-chain store group owned by Philadelphia-based Versa Capital Management LLC, says it has agreed to buy Sport Chalet, a Southern California chain of 50 sporting-goods dealers, for up to $1.20 a share.

Vestis plans to combine Sport Chalet's back-office and online logistics operations with its Eastern Mountain Sports chain in the mid-Atlantic states and Bob's Stores in the Northeast "to create one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the U.S.," with a total of 150+ stores and $800 milllion in combined sales last years. The stores will keep their names but combine sales lines, services and "a unique and scalable online presence," Vestis boss Mark Walsh said in a statement. Versa says it has agreed to borrow up to $180 million to invest in building up the combined chains. 

The price is a premium to the company's recent trading price of around $1.12 but a nearly 90 percent discount to its 2007 stock market peak. Sport Chalet's market value at its recent price is around $12 million, according to Bloomberg News. Versa, headed by Gregory L. Segall, is part of Ira Lubert's group of partly state-backed investment funds.

Craig L. Levra will stay on (at least for now) as Sport Chalet CEO, and Vestis said it doesn't expect to shut any of the stores. Levra said Sport Chalet chose Vestis as "the ideal partner" for his West Coast chain, given its other stores' East Coast focus and reliance on the same sporting-goods vendors and inventory. Together, "
we will be very well positioned to compete in today’s retail environment as part of a larger organization with significant scale advantages and broad geographic reach,” Levra said in a statement.

Vestis says it will pay $1.20 a share if the company's founders agree to sell enough shares at a discount price of 75 cents, and if other insiders and current shareholders agree to sell Vestis their shares at higher prices. If not, Vestis will pay $1.04 a share, a discount to the recent market price.

As a national chain, Vestis will compete with high-end hunting and fishing retailer Cabela's, big-box chains like Dick's Sporting Goods, and mass discounters like Walmart.

Besides the Vestis group, Versa also owns Avenue Stores; Black Angus steakhouses; the Civitas Media community newspapers; and other companies.