Will Ashley merge stores?
a MerGer of house of Fraser and Debenhams could be on the cards, Sports Direct boss Mike ashley has admitted.
The retail tycoon said he was still interested in buying Debenhams after denying reports Sports Direct was considering a takeover bid earlier this year.
ashley, 54, paid £90m to buy house of Fraser out of administration this year and owns a near-30pc stake in Debenhams.
however, he has written off the value of the stake after shares plunged by more than 80pc this year to just 6.6p. appearing before MPs on the Communities Select Committee last night, he said the stores should join forces to combat the high Street slowdown. ‘ I told them to work together,’ ashley said.
asked whether he was still interested in buying Debenhams during an interview with Sky News, he said: ‘ I look at all things, so I would say yes.’
he added Debenhams should implement a controversial insolvency procedure called a company voluntary arrangement because its rent is too high. The chain is closing 50 of its 166 stores after suffering a loss of almost £500m – the biggest in its 240-year history.
ashley added: ‘Debenhams has got an absolutely almighty task. I’m happy to work with them, I’m happy to discuss things, I’m happy to see if there’s any synergies where we can work together.’
he warned MPs, meanwhile, that online shopping was killing the high Street and called for a 20pc tax on internet retailers.
‘ Unless you do something really radical the high Street isn’t going to be there any more,’ he added.