Sports Direct beat Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group to House of Fraser in a pre-pack administration earlier this month. Drapers tracks the careers of rival entrepreneurs Mike Ashley and Philip Day, leading to their battle for HoF.
|Mike Ashley||Philip Day|
|1982||Mike Ashley founds Mike Ashley Sports in Maidenhead||1981||Leaves school aged 17 and begins traineeship at clothing manufacturer. Works at clothing manufacturers Coats Viyella and Wensum|
|1983||Ashley opens Preston Sports shop in London||1993||Headhunted by Aquascutum|
|1996||Ashley changes his company’s name to Sports Soccer. He now has 50 stores
Company acquires the Donnay brand.
|1998||Becomes joint managing director at Aquascutum.|
|2000||Ashley incorporates the business. Brand expands internationally with store openings in Belgium.||2001||Leaves Aquascutumn. Joins Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM), where Day leads a buyout of the company backed by private equity firm Rutland Fund Management.|
|2002||Ashley forms a joint venture in Belgium. He now owns 80 stores, 22 of which trade as Disport. Ashley sparks an Office of Fair Trading probe after blowing the whistle on the price fixing of football shirts by rivals, including JJB Sports.||2002||Day acquires EWM for £67.5m with the backing of Bank of Scotland, employing 3,140 people at the time.
EWM is believed to be exploring potential for overseas push.
|2003||Ashley acquires Lillywhites chain, adding 10 stores to his portfolio. The company also acquires the Lonsdale brand. Store portfolio now stands at 150.|
|2004||Ashley’s company acquires Dunlop Slazenger for £40m. Brands added include Dunlop, Slazenger, Karrimor and Carloto.|
|2005||Company changes name to Sports World International. Acquires Campri, LA Gear, No Fear, Title and Voodo Dolls.|
|2006||Merrill Lynch values the company at £2.5bn ahead of a flotation on the London Stock Exchange.
Ashley buys Kangol and owns a 29.4% stake in Blacks Leisure Group, owner of Millets.
|2006||Day is appointed as director of EWM Group after the company incorporates.|
|2007||Sports Direct floats at 300p per share, netting Ashley £929m. As of March, Ashley is no longer listed as the sole owner of the business.
Company buys Streetwise Sports, adding 32 stores, and Amer Sports.
Ashley holds talks with John Hargreaves, founder of troubled Matalan chain, and acquires 25% of the business.
Ashley buys Newcastle United Football Club.
As of December, store portfolio stands at 478.
|2007||The retailer announces turnover of £147.4m, up from £145.6m the year before.|
|2008||Sports Direct ends relationship with corporate banker Credit Suisse.
Ashley buys Golddigga out of administration for around £500,000.
The Office of Fair Trading begins investigates a possible merger between JJB Sports and Sports World.
Company acquires Everlast, Field & Trek and Sport 2000.
Sports World becomes SportsDirect.com
|2008||EWM buys home furnishing company Ponden Mill and soft furnishing company Rosebys.
Day appointed as director of Carlisle United Football Club in April.
|2009||Sports Direct and Lion Capital are believed to have made separate preliminary approaches to the board of Blacks Leisure about a possible takeover of the company.
Dave Whelan buys JJB Sports, despite Ashley making an £80m bid and writing to JJB’s landlords asking them not to reassign leases to the new owner.
The Office of Fair Trading launches an investigation into the sportswear retail market, beginning with JJB Sports and Sports Direct.
|2009||Day buys Scottish golf brand ProQuip for a reported £750,000.
Resigns from Carlisle United Football Club in May.
|2010||Sports Direct acquires the rights to disputed 29% of Blacks Leisure to vote against rescue plans.
Blacks suppliers threaten to boycott if Ashley acquires the business.
Blacks rejects Ashley’s bid as “wholly inadequate” and Sports Direct pulls out over concerns that suppliers would not work with them.
The Office of Fair Trading rules that Sports Direct shares in Blacks Leisure did not create any competition issues.
The Serious Fraud Office confirms that no investigation or charges are to be brought against Sports Direct.
|2010||EWM sales remain flat for the year to 27 February, despite opening 21 stores in the period.
Day’s daughter, Kirstie, is a finalist in the 2010 Miss England competition. Day gets into hot water over allegedly ordering staff to vote for his daughter.
|2011||Sports Direct acquires World Design and Trade, owners of Firetrap and Full Circle respectively, and a 51% stake in Flannels.
The company gets into trouble after selling Firetrap product for less than the wholesale price in store and online, leading independent stockists to threaten to cancel spring 13 orders.
JJB Sports carries out a pre-pack administration and Sports Direct buys 20 stores.
Rumours circulate that Ashley is to buy House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy out of the business.
Sports Direct continues international expansion, opening stores in Portugal and acquires USC, Cruise, Van Mildert, No Fear and Hot Tuna.
|2011||EWM buys women’s fashion retailer Jane Norman in a pre-pack administration deal. Day closes 33 stores, but says he will add 50 and 75 stores to the 63 it retains, and plans to expand the brand internationally.
Debenhams terminates its concession agreement with Jane Norman in August after talks with EWM break down.
|2012||Day buys Peacocks out of administration – reportedly with £200m of his own money –retaining 388 stores, and saving 6,000 jobs. He says he plans to open a further 50 stores. Suppliers are angered after being asked for up to 90 days’ credit on payment. Peacocks says it will launch an online offer within 15 months and is planning overseas expansion, returning to the Middle East and launching in Germany. EWM opens a new Jane Norman store in Waterford, Ireland.|
|2013||Sports Direct buys young fashion retailer Republic out of administration, acquiring 116 stores, all stock and the retailer’s website, as well as SoulCal, Fabric and Crafted.
Company buys outdoor brand Gelert out of administration, saving 100 jobs.
Ashley buys northern independent chain Pulp.
Sports Direct launches a magazine.
International acquisitions include Eybl in Austria and Sportland in the Baltics
|2013||Day hires Tony Brown, former Beales chief executive, as managing director of Peacocks.
Jane Norman closes its 262 Oxford Street store.
The BBC accuses EWM of making clothes in the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh, which was hit by a fire. Day insists the clothes were simply stored there and made elsewhere, but the issue causes Buckingham Palace to reconsider whether to award EWM a royal warrant. It decides against it.
|2014||Sports Direct loses bid to buy Irish sports chain Elverys. The company’s AGM is cancelled after it fails to gain shareholder approval for a new bonus scheme that would give Ashley £72m of shares. It is approved in June and Ashley withdraws himself from the 2015 bonus schem in July to ensure the “maximum number of shares available for the eligible employees”.
House of Fraser sends legal letter to Ashley and Sir Tom Hunter over the manner by which the Scottish entrepreneur sold his 11% stake in the business to Sports Direct. Ashley retains 11% stake in HoF following sale of 89% of the business to Chinese conglomerate Sanpower.
Sports Direct gets into hot water over zero-hours contracts controversy after former employee takes retailer to court.
Ashley makes a £40m loan to Sports Direct.
Sports Direct acquires balance of Eybl and stakes in Debenhams and HoF.
|2014||Jane Norman goes into administration again.|
|2015||Sports Direct is revealed as one of the lowest contributors to staff pensions in the FTSE 100, paying £82 per employee compared with the average of £2,290.
Ashley refuses to appear before MPs at the Scottish affairs committee over his treatment of USC workers and use of zero-hours contracts. He threatens MPs with legal action for breaching his human rights.
Ashley sells Sports Direct’s London headquarters in May to the University of Westminster for £44m.
Sports Direct comes under fire after Channel 4’s Dispatches investigation into the “hidden cost” of Ashley’s empire. He is accused of “misleading” shoppers and ignoring government guidelines by exaggerating discounts.
Ashley buys 25% of brand agency Four Marketing. Sports Direct strikes deal to buy Irish department store chain Heatons for €47.5m (£35m). Ashley is believed to be considering acquisition of Donegall Arcade in Belfast.
|2015||Day is refused permission to challenge a £450,000 fine for felling trees and excavating land in an ancient Cumbrian woodland in 2010.
Tesco launches Peacocks and Sports Direct shop-in-shops in two Hungary stores.
EWM reports record annual pre-tax profit, up 28% to £91.2m for the year to 28 February. The group announces plans to open 100 more stores in the next two years. It also clawed back £7m of the £10m owed by Jane Norman, for which it was the secured creditor, after the womenswear chain went into administration.
Day is reported as one of the wealthiest retail tycoons, owning 100% of the 1,000-store EWM Group.
|2016||Ashley is allegedly being sued for an offer to pay an investment banker £15m if he could double the share price of Sports Direct in three years.
Sports Direct announces it will increase borrowing with banks and stop using money from Ashley.
Ashley is warned by government that he could be in contempt of court if he fails to give evidence at Westminster over working conditions at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse. He accuses MPs of trying to create a “media circus”.
Ashley receives a summons to give evidence and eventually agrees to appear before MPs in June. He admits working practices need to improve, adding that company had outgrown him and agreeing to an independent review of corporate governance. Prime minister David Cameron condemns the business’s working conditions and low wages.
Ashley to provide written update on working practices by 23 September. He appoints an employee representative to the board. Ashley sends letter to all employees to apologise for “shortcomings” in working practices.
Ashley to give evidence to parliamentary select committees over the collapse of BHS. Ashley is outbid by rivals for BHS.
Ashley is forced to hand over private text messages to lawyers acting for a former adviser to the retailer who is suing him for £14m.
Ashley tries to install himself as chairman of online and catalogue retailer Findel.
Ashley arranges a personal overdraft of £50m.
He challenges MPs to a live, televised debate at the Sports Direct warehouse after MPs make an unscheduled visit.
Ashley is appointed as chief executive in September.
|2016||Day’s daughter, Lauren, is appointed to the EWM board as group development director.
EWM is cleared of allegations that some of its scarves labelled as 100% cashmere were actually blended with cheaper materials.
Day acquires Austin Reed and Country Casuals from administration, announcing that he plans to open 50 new Austin Reed stores by 2018. After relaunching the menswear brand online in September, the EWM Group is preparing to open the first new Austin Reed stores towards the end of 2017, targeting around 50 sites over three years.
The group also plans to open 200 stores over the next 18 months for its fascias. EWM Group opens 43 stores in the UK and Ireland for the year to 28 February, as sales rise 2.4% to £576.3m and profit before tax and exceptional items also increases by 2.4% to £90.9m.
|2017||Ashley enters race to acquire Agent Provocateur with a reported bid of £27.5m. Four Marketing buys the lingerie retailer in a pre-pack administration deal.
MPs write to Ashley claiming Sports Direct is underpaying couriers.
Sports Direct closes four of nine concessions in Debenhams stores.
Shareholders at Sports Direct vote against a proposed £11m payment to Ashley’s brother, John, after an accountant’s report finds was underpaid since the flotation.
|2017||Day acquires fashion brand Jaegar out of administration, as well as its debt from private equity firm Better Capital, announcing that the purchase is part of EWM’s plan open a new department store.
EWM launches Days Department Store in the former BHS unit in Carmathen, South Wales. Day announces plans to open more than 50 of the stores, including openings in Crawley and Bedford in 2018.
EWM is believed to be considering bid for womenswear chains Warehouse, Oasis and Coast.
The group announces a sales increase of 2.4% to £576.3m in the year to 28 February 2016, and profit before tax and exceptional items rise by 2.4% to £90.9m.
|February 2018||Ashley signs £3.2m deal with video games retailer Games Digital. Sports Direct plans to launch gaming concessions and e-sports areas in some stores.||February 2018||EWM buys men’s tailoring supplier Berwin & Berwin.|
|3 May 2018||Ashley files a formal complaint complaint to parliament about the conduct of Ian Wright, former chair of the business, innovation and skills committee.||4 May 2018||Calvetron Brands goes into administration.|
|8 May 2018||Sports Direct launches legal action against House of Fraser ahead of its proposed company voluntary arrangement (CVA). Ashley’s company files for an injunction, claiming that it has been “repeatedly denied information to which it is legally entitled”.||1 June 2018||Day asked to become chairman of Stobart Group.|
|18 June 2018||TK Maxx accuses Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct of attempting to “deceive the public” by opening new stores under the Brand Max fascia. Ashley applies for an Irish trademark for “Brand Max Designer Outlet” on 17 April. The outcome is still pending.||18 June 2018||A senior director at Stobart Group calls into question the suitability of Day as chairman.|
|17 July 2018||Sports Direct Northgate, which trades as Barrington Sports, out of administration.||5 July 2018||Day and EWM are believed to have put in a bid to acquire Wyevale Garden Centres.|
|19 July 2018||Sports Direct unveils new flagship in Thurrock as part of a strategy to create the ”ultimate shopping destination for the lifestyle consumer”.||10 July 2018||Plot to oust Stobart chairman is put on hold as Day’s candidacy for the job is withdrawn.|
|2 August 2018||HoF believed to be in talks with Ashley about a £50m investment.||2 August 2018||Day is named as potential investor in talks for House of Fraser rescue deal.|
|3 August 2018||HoF landlords legally challenge the department store’s plan to close more than half of its stores. Hamley’s Chinese owner C Banner pulls out of a propsed £70m investment.
Ashley still in talks with investors about a rescue deal for HoF.
|3 August 2018||HoF landlords legally challenge the department store’s plan to close more than half of its stores. Hamley’s Chinese owner C Banner pulls out of a proposed £70m investment.
Day still in talks with investors about a rescue deal for HoF.
|6 August 2018||HoF reaches out-of-court settlement with landlords.||6 August 2018||Day adds Calvetron Brands, including Jacques Vert, Eastex and Windsmoor, to the EWM Group portfolio.|
|10 August 2018||HoF appoints administrators after investors fail to reach deal.
Sports Direct buys HoF out of administration for £90m.
Several HoF suppliers hit out at the retailer’s pre-pack administration and sale, fearing they will be left to pick up the bill.
|10 August 2018||HoF appoints administrators after investors fail to reach deal.
Sports Direct buys HoF out of administration for £90m. Day says he submitted a rival bid of £100m and would have covered the chain’s pension liabilities.
|13 August 2018||It is announced HoF pension members could suffer a substantial cut to their benefits following the administration. Sports Direct appoints property agency CBRE to start talks with HoF landlords.
Several brands withdraw stock from HoF, including Jigsaw and Karen Millen.
|13 August 2018||On hearing of supplier conflicts over HoF sale, Day urges Ashley to “do the honourable thing and pay all suppliers and concessionaires on date and in full”, given that he bought the chain “conservatively”.|
|14 August 2018||Ashley announces he will keep 80% of HoF’s 59 stores open and to add “cool brands of the moment”. It emerges that HoF struck a £1m sweetheart deal with landlords to drop their legal challenge to its CVA days before it went into administration.|
|15 August 2018||Workers at a HoF distribution centre were told by the site operator to stop accepting goods and processing deliveries, leading to product shortages in some stores.
The HoF website is taken offline following the dispute with warehouse operator XPO Logistics.
Rumours circulate that Ashley could bid for Debenhams and subsequently combine it with HoF arise.
|15 August 2018||Day is believed to be in talks with a group of landlords to take over several HoF stores with a view to running them as Days Department Stores.|
|16 August 2018||HoF cancels all online orders, following “significant delays” with deliveries.||16 August 2018||Day dismisses speculation that he will bid for Debenhams but confirms he is in discussions with HoF landlords about buying some stores.|
|20 August 2018||The HoF website redirects customers to Flannels.
XPO Logistics puts more than 600 members of staff into consultation, following the HoF administration.
Mulberry warns the collapse could hit profits.
|21 August 2018||Ashley signs a deal to keep the HoF Oxford Street flagship open, which Sports Direct says “cements his intentions for the department store chain”.
Suppliers warn of job losses, profit shortfalls and even risks of closure as debts are revealed.
|23 August 2018||There are reports that Ashley and Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell could face a shareholder revolt at the AGM in September, amid calls to vote against their re-election to the board, following years of “poor governance”.|