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29 January 2019 0 Comments
Posted in Opinion, Retail & Leisure

Is Mike Ashley the high street savior we have all been waiting for?

Posted by , Senior Associate
Contributing authors: Bharat Nahar and

Michael James Wallace Ashley, 54, is one of Britain’s best known business magnates and owner of Sports Direct, the UK’s largest sporting retailer by revenue and an expanding gym chain.

Mike Ashley

He is best known as the owner of Newcastle United football club, but more recently known as the man about the High Street with a passion and a burning desire to revive Britain’s retail industry.

Since Sports Direct, Ashley has significantly grown his retail empire acquiring shares and assets within numerous companies through a web of vehicles.. Within the Sports Direct family Dunlop, Slazenger, Kangol, USC and Firetrap are just some of the brands which have been acquired over the years.

Mike Ashley infographic

What has been on his radar recently?

More recently he came to the rescue of House of Fraser buying one of the High Street’s favourite department stores in a £90m deal just hours after it fell into administration. His intention: “to transform it into the Harrods of the High Street”.
“I believe politicians and landlords should be doing more to save our struggling high streets, so I intend to make the most of this opportunity to make a real difference.”
At the end of 2018, Evans Cycles was sold Sports Direct as part of a pre-pack administration. Despite the administrator reportedly advising him that they were “almost all” profitable, there are plans to close half. Ashley said: “We are pleased to have rescued the Evans Cycles brand. However, in order to save the business we only believe we will be able to keep 50 per cent of stores open in the future. Unfortunately some stores will have to close.”

What should we expect for 2019?

Sport Direct strategy is called ‘Elevation’ across both Sports Retail and Premium Lifestyle fascias. It is designed to improve the customer experience at every step of the journey. This includes large format flagship-style megastores in strategic retail locations that may include one or more of the Group’s fascias on a single site, plus a fitness gym where appropriate.

Recent news suggests Ashley has reportedly been in talks with HMV which called in administrators from KPMG on December 28. Ashley, who put in a bid last week, has supposedly written to Landlord’s insisting on a six month rent free period should he pursue the deal to acquire the 125 British store portfolio.

Ashley also owns a 25% stake in Game Digital . The Sports Direct tycoon paid £3.2 million last year for half of Game’s e-sports business to set up similar gaming arenas in Sports Direct stores.

Ashley has tabled a bid for beleaguered HMV, which fell into administration days after Christmas, fuelling speculation it could merge it with Game.

If you have any questions about how your business wishes to navigate the changing environment of the high street contact Amie Dee.

020 7583 2222     Email usamie.dee@roydswithyking.com

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