Ashley makes £100m bet on web boost
‘We’re still very much a bricks-and-clicks business, not clicks-and-bricks, and we are trying to stay ahead’
MIKE ASHLEY’S retail empire Frasers is to plough £100m into online expansion and open stores in shopping centres as it seeks to profit from the collapse of high street rivals.
The business – which owns brands including Sports Direct, House of Fraser and Flannels – is seeking to ramp up internet sales and snap up space on the cheap for high-end shops following a host of industry failures.
Frasers will also close more of its 1,534 stores if they are unable to turn a profit as it seeks to focus on the bestperforming areas.
The company remains wedded to bricks and mortar at a time when many rivals are being forced to drastically slim down, but also wants to conquer more of the digital market.
Frasers added that normality is returning to the high street and unveiled a 20pc drop in annual profits.
Chris Wootton, finance chief, said: “We’re still very much a bricks-andclicks business, not a clicks-and-bricks business, but we are trying to stay ahead of the curve on the digital. We’ve put a number on it and we will be pushing on with it.”
Frasers is also eyeing more leasehold sites it could rent in shopping centres as rivals struggle to keep stores open.
Mr Wootton said: “We’ve been on a freehold acquisition strategy, and it’s [not] finished, but there are more leasehold opportunities out there.”