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Sports Direct billionaire Mike Ashley eyes bid for bust TopShop-owner's brands

Kumutha Ramanathan
·Contributor
·2-min read
A man walks past a Topshop store. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters
A man walks past a Topshop store. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Sports Direct mogul Mike Ashley's Frasers Group (FRAS.L) confirmed it is considering buying another Arcadia brand, this time millennial favourite Topshop.

Frasers Group said on Monday that it was in discussions with Debenhams’ administrators about a possible rescue bid for the department store’s UK operations. The news follows the highly publicised downfall of Arcadia Group, which went into administration on 30 November after its trading was “severely impacted” by the coronavirus pandemic. The move puts some 13,000 jobs at risk.

"We do tend to look at almost everything on the high street," Frasers' chief financial officer Chris Wootton told the BBC's Today programme on Thursday.

While Wootton confirmed that Frasers was interested in Arcadia’s portfolio of brands, he wouldn’t say how long the review process would take, instead highlighting that “the process has only just started so there's a long way to go as to ascertain what – if anything – we look at with that."

Despite high street stores struggling to regain their footing following successive lockdowns and raising COVID-19 cases in the UK making shoppers fearful to visit physical stores, Frasers said on Thursday that it would invest more in standalone shops. This is despite the pandemic pushing more sales online.

Shares soared on Thursday, up 13.6% at around 3.50pm in London. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Shares soared on Thursday, up 13.6% at around 3.50pm in London. Chart: Yahoo Finance

READ MORE: Sports Direct-owner Frasers doubles down on stores even as pandemic drives sales online

Temporary store closures did hit Frasers Group with a 7% fall in sales for the six months to 25 October, but the company did report a rise in profits, up £106m ($142.96m) from £90m last year.

Retail tycoon Mike Ashley expressed interested in taking over Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group even before it fell into administration, offering a £50m lifeline in November, which the latter individual called a “publicity stunt.”

According to Sky News, Frasers Group had draw up plans for an emergency loan to Arcadia just hours before its board appointed administrators.

WATCH: Frasers Group may rescue Debenhams