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Mike Ashley to pull Sports Direct out of Intu centres

Mike Ashley has reportedly decided to close all of his stores that are located in Intu-owned shopping centres – including Sports Direct and USC – as his dispute with the landlord continues.

It comes after Ashley and Intu failed to agree a deal to keep the House of Fraser stores in Nottingham, Norwich, Lakeside in Essex and the Metrocentre in Gateshead open, as exclusively reported by Drapers earlier this month.

It is understood that Ashley now plans to close all Sports Direct-owned stores in Intu centres, including Sports Direct, Flannels, USC and Evans Cycles – a total of 15 units, The Sunday Times reported.

A spokesperson for Intu confirmed that the stores account for 1% of rentals, generating around £5m annually.  

Last week, Intu further extended the deadline in talks to take the company private. The consortium bidding for Intu comprises Intu’s largest shareholder, Peel Group, Saudi conglomerate Olayan Group and Brookfield, a Canadian private equity group.


Readers' comments (9)

  • Clearly this is not possible unless he has some very cleverly worded leases. I assume he's going to make a load of redundancies as well? Petulance from a man that simply isn't getting his own way. What would happen if the landlords played his silly games and booted him out of their shops ?

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  • Sounds like a bully. Especially making this so public. Not motivating for store teams involved and blatant attempt to deflect the blame to the landlord.

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  • Of course he is a bully. They are all bully’s.
    Need fuel for boats planes and cars.

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  • Bully or more likely using Intu's stance as an excuse to get out?

    Ashley is no fool and knows that the High Streets best days are finished as it heads to ever diminishing returns. He would also know that there is more retail space available than there is demand, so he can take his stores to other sites with 'Take it or Leave Terms'.

    This story may come across as someone who cannot get his own way, but in reality it is basic economics. Nothing more, nothing less.

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  • Intu is absolutely right not to give in, but who ultimately suffers from all this bullying, the staff - as always.

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  • Warning shot across the bows for Intu. While I can fully understand their position, its shows the future for Malls - empty shops - as Ashley will be one of many to depart in the years ahead.

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  • This should be looked as purely business, not personalities. Ashley knows which way the wind is blowing more than Intu and is rationalising his portfolio to his own ends, which is a sensible thing to do. Love or hate Sports Direct, but it is one of the very, very few success stories in physical retail the last ten years and he has proved beyond any doubt that he knows what he is doing where many others in fashion do not.

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  • Intu are in a difficult position but are walking a tightrope. Our local Intu ,the Metro Centre ,has lots of empty units already and soon to lose HOF. Mr Ashley is in a very strong position and Intu need to be careful.

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  • Intu have already fallen off the tightrope. Whether they actually realise that is another matter.

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