|Bid||156.00 x 0|
|Ask||165.00 x 0|
|Day's range||155.00 - 165.00|
|52-week range||1.88 - 320.00|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.84|
|PE ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Earnings date||13 Nov 2019|
|Forward dividend & yield||0.05 (3.76%)|
|Ex-dividend date||24 Oct 2019|
|1y target est||1,100.00|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- There’s a new bling king in town. From selling cut-price tracksuits and trainers at his Sports Direct shops, Mike Ashley is now accumulating a portfolio of holdings in luxury-goods brands.The British billionaire’s Frasers Group Plc said late on Friday it had a acquired an exposure worth as much as 97 million pounds ($122 million) to German fashion house Hugo Boss AG through shares and derivative positions.The interests in Boss, known for its sharp suiting, represents Ashley’s second foray into luxury goods in the past six months. In February, Frasers, which includes the Sports Direct chain, House of Fraser department stores and Flannels luxury boutiques, spent about 20 million pounds acquiring a 12.5% stake in upmarket accessories maker Mulberry Group Plc, best known for its iconic Bayswater bag.The strategy for both investments is the same; securing close commercial relationships with an investment interest. They’re meant to buttress Ashley’s goal of turning House of Fraser into the “Harrods of the high street.” While this has been much maligned, the brash retail mogul may just have his chances if the company can position itself well coming out of the coronavirus lockdown, especially with rival Debenhams Plc significantly weakened.Like Mulberry, Hugo Boss is an important brand for both House of Fraser and Flannels, which also sells Burberry and Balenciaga. The companies have worked together as commercial partners for some time.There may be reasons for striking now.Hugo Boss shares have lost half of their value in the past year, underperforming the Bloomberg Intelligence luxury peer group, and the company faces a management shake-up just as Chief Executive Officer Mark Langer’s sensible turnaround loses steam. Langer, a long-serving executive who took the top job in 2016, will leave on Sept. 30. The company said recently it was in talks with former Tommy Hilfiger Group CEO Daniel Grieder to be his successor.If Grieder is appointed, it’s not clear how he will revive Hugo Boss’s fortunes. One option could be to follow the luxury-industry trend of cutting back on distribution to retailers not considered upmarket enough for one’s brands. If Grieder were to seek to rationalize supply to House of Fraser, then Ashley, as a big holder, would be able to make his views known.Meanwhile, the Marzotto Italian textile-manufacturing family, a long-time shareholder in Hugo Boss, increased its stake from 10% to 15% in February, sparking speculation the company could be taken private. If this were to happen, Ashley would have a seat at the table too.As with his investments in high street retail, Ashley’s dabbling in luxury has been distinctly mixed. I argued in February that he couldn’t lose with the stake in Mulberry. But the British brand has since been hurt by the lockdown, and parted company with its star designer Johnny Coca, who has now joined Louis Vuitton. Shares in Mulberry have fallen 17% since Ashley took his stake.While Ashley’s interest in Boss may be strategic, it is not without risk. Hugo Boss still generates the majority of its sales from clothing, not the best place to be in a pandemic as many consumers essentially skip a fashion season. What’s more, demand for its smart tailoring in business attire may be permanently damaged by a shift to working from home. Its new management and design teams will have to work hard to offset that by accelerating Langer’s push into younger, more casual clothing, and bolstering revenue from accessories, which are proving more resilient.Ashley’s moves usually raise eyebrows, but he often takes the right strategic direction. With his attention now focused on brands that are far from cut price, Burberry Group Plc has several potentially alluring characteristics: It’s in a turnaround, its shares have dipped and it’s a Flannels favorite. The British luxury house could yet fit in Ashley’s shopping bag.But for now, he will be hoping that his timing for striking at Hugo Boss suits him better than Mulberry did.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Around 350 jobs are at risk as Mulberry starts a global consultation process.
British luxury brand Mulberry <MUL.L> said on Monday it plans to cut 25% of its global workforce of about 1,500, seeking to reduce its cost base after demand was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Mulberry, best known for its leather bags, said given the uncertainty over the impact and duration of COVID-19 on its business and the wider economy, it expected the recovery in sales levels over the medium term to be gradual. The majority of Mulberry's over 120 owned and partner stores across 25 countries remain closed due to national lockdowns.