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Agent Provocateur founder brands sale 'a disgrace’

Co-founder of lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, Joe Corré, has lashed out at the sale of the company to Mike Ashley-backed Four Marketing, branding the deal a “disgrace to British business”.

Yesterday it was revealed that Four Marketing, in which Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has a 25% stake, acquired Agent Provocateur in a pre-pack deal from venture capitalist 3i.

The deal has drawn a harsh response from Corré, as reported by The Guardian. He said: “The pre-pack arrangement between 3i and Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct is a disgrace to British business up there with Sir Philip Green’s shocking behaviour over BHS.

“If this preposterous deal goes ahead with Mike Ashley, 3i and their partners are going to face a phenomenal swath of litigation actions. 3i’s reputation is going to be left in tatters. I don’t think they will ever recover from this.”

Corré also claimed Ashley would “pick at a carcass” and plans “to the keep the brand and the stock and nothing much else”.

Corré co-founded Agent Provocateur in 1994, alongside Serena Rees. In 2007, 3i bought a £60m controlling stake in the business from Corré, who is the son of fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. He left the business in 2009.

Drapers has contacted Four Marketing for a comment.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Eric Musgrave

    Corre has a fair point about pre-packs, but they are, sadly, a part of the UK retail scene. Until they are made illegal, they will continue to be used.The Agent Provocateur deal is surely more to do with Ashley's empire than Sports Direct. Here is my take on (slightly out-of-date as it was written last year)

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  • It should also be noted that Mike Ashley/Sports Direct is apparently eyeing up French Connection. If he should do a so-called 'pre-pack administration' with this Company, then Suppliers with outstanding debts owed by French Connection will no doubt have bad debts on their hands. Please be vigilant!

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  • Mike Ashley, such a bastion of British business practice and a wonderful employer. He should be allowed to gobble up as many brands as he can. Not.

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  • If folk feel so upset about the aquisition, then why dont they put their hands in thier pockets and buy it. Ridiculous statements.

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  • darren hoggett

    Without stating the obvious, if Agent Provocateur was so damn good then why did it fail? No brand has a right to exist.

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  • Decent Man

    Eric, you make a very good point about pre-packs. They are in effect an escape clause that hurts suppliers. The sooner they are made illegal the better it is for all of the industry. I find this acquisition by Mike Ashley to be the saddest yet of the brands he has bought, and gone on to destroy.

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