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Mike Ashley's grip on UK retail market revealed

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley’s growing group of businesses captured 3.2% of all UK non-food retail spend in 2018, new research has shown.

The report by analytics company GlobalData looked at the businesses Ashley wholly owns or has a significant share in, and calculated their share of the UK’s non-food retail market. 

As well as Sports Direct, Ashley owns USC, Flannels, Cruise, Van Mildert, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles, a 27% stake in French Connection and a 30% stake in Debenhams.

He is currently in talks to acquire struggling retailer HMV.

Sofie Willmott, retail analyst at GlobalData, said: “Mike Ashley has had a significant impact on the UK retail market in the past year, buying failing brands at a low price and aiming to turn their fortunes around. Given the well-known yet unrelated retailers that Ashley’s Sports Direct has purchased, it is unclear exactly what his long-term strategy is, but his growing group of brands will enable him to achieve economies of scale in terms of the supply chain, giving him greater buying power which will improve gross margins.

“He may also be able to use synergies across the retailers to combine elements and increase brand reach. For example, some of House of Fraser’s premium brands could sit alongside the upmarket brands in Flannels and Evans Cycles could become a concession within Sports Direct enabling the sports player to become more of a destination for bikes.”

As negotiations over House of Fraser’s store estate and the future of Debenhams and French Connection continue, all eyes will remain on Ashley in 2019.




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