Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has bought a majority stake in Sir Tom Hunter’s branded fashion business USC and the luxury retailer Cruise Clothing as part of plans to build a premiu lifestyle division.
Sports Direct acquired an 80% stake in the businesses for £7m. Hunter will remain a “significant investor” and be chairman of USC and Cruise.
The deal will give Sports Direct access to a more diverse customer base and higher level brands.
USC, which has 38 stores across the UK, generated sales in the 12 months to 30 January 2011 of £70m. Cruise has 10 stores in the UK and annual turnover of £20m.
Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey said: “We are pleased to be taking this opportunity to work with Tom and his teams in the premium and luxury sector of the market.
“While USC and Cruise will remain independent of Sports Direct, we will support the businesses with our operational expertise.”
Hunter said: “This deal will transform the prospects for both USC and Cruise and our employees at a time of extraordinary turbulence in the high street.”