Sports Direct transferred store leases from its young fashion chain, USC, to Republic months before it was put into administration, it has been reported.
The sportswear firm moved leases of six USC stores to Republic – which is also owned by Sports Direct – in November and December 2014, The Guardian has revealed.
USC went into administration on January 13 2015.
In November 2014 the lease on USC’s store in Livingston, West Lothian, was moved to Republic, while two days before Christmas the leases on USC’s Aberdeen, Doncaster, Dundee, Edinburgh and Hull stores were all transferred in the same way.
A source told the newspaper the change of ownership happened because the shops were performing well and Sports Direct did not want to put them into the administration.
The ownership of USC’s trademark was switched to another Sports Direct company on December 19 at the Intellectual Property Office, less than a month before the administration, The Guardian said.
Dave Forsey, chief executive of Sports Direct, was charged with a criminal offence in October relating to the controversial pre-pack administration of USC.
Stock was removed from the Dundonald warehouse on January 7, almost a week before Sports Direct appointed administrators for USC on January 13. On January 14, warehouse staff were given just 15 minutes’ notice that they were being made redundant.
At a Scottish Affairs Committee hearing on March 25, Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell said there was insufficient time for a consultation period, as the decision to close the warehouse was made too soon after the chain went into administration.