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Mike Ashley

Owner, Sports Direct International

Retail mogul Mike Ashley was never far from the headlines in 2019.

In Sports Direct International’s delayed full-year results, published on 26 July, Ashley said he would have thought twice about rescuing House of Fraser, and described problems at the department store chain as “nothing short of terminal in nature”, much to the dismay and disbelief of suppliers.

The high street tycoon plans to change 31 HoF stores into a premium chain under the Frasers name over the next five years, the first of which will debut in the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton.

Not content with one department store chain, Ashley made a play for HoF’s struggling rival, Debenhams. After a bitter and lengthy battle, Ashley lost. Debenhams went into administration on 8 April, and was bought back by its lenders, wiping out the value of his 29.7% stake.

Ashley called the pre-pack administration a “national scandal” and called for the process to be reversed in favour of a “full, better and appropriate solvent solution”.

He had greater success with preppy young fashion chain Jack Wills, which he bought for £12.8m in a pre-pack deal in August.

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