Mike Ashley has called for House of Fraser’s former directors to face an Insolvency Service inquiry, claiming they “misled” suppliers and warehouse operators.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Ashley, who bought House of Fraser for £90m through Sports Direct last month in a pre-pack administration deal, claimed the department store chain’s chairman, Frank Slevin and other colleagues had promised to pay suppliers with cash from the business’s former owner, Chinese conglomerate Sanpower.
The report from administrator EY showed House of Fraser had debts totalling £484m, including £30.4m owed to XPO Logistics.
“I believe XPO and others were totally misled by Frank Slevin and the House of Fraser board, and the demise of House of Fraser should be fully investigated,” said Ashley.
Responding to the claims in the Sunday Times, Slevin said he had had “no direct conversations” with XPO.
Meanwhile, Ashley is expected to miss the upcoming Sports Direct AGM on 12 September because of “overriding demands on his time”. Chairman Keith Hellawell will instead chair the meeting, where it is expected the pair may face shareholder rebellion over their management of the company. This will be the first AGM since Sports Direct acquired House of Fraser.