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Who owns the high street: Mike Ashley

Includes Sports Direct, Agent Provocateur, Debenhams, House of Fraser

Controversial retail tycoon Mike Ashley has had a busy 12 months. Sports Direct bought an 11% stake in high street chain French Connection in February 2017. A month later, Four Marketing, the agency in which Sports Direct has a 25% stake, bought lingerie label Agent Provocateur in a pre-pack administration. 

Last month Ashley raised his holding in department store chain Debenhams to 29.7%. His interests in department stores also include House of Fraser, in which he bought an 11% share in 2014. 

Ashley’s recent acquisitions mark a departure from his traditional “pile it high” model to a more upmarket position. In 2016, the businessman outlined plans to turn Sports Direct, which has 468 UK stores, into the “Selfridges of sport”, hoping to stock better-quality products from more premium brands.

Ashley is also expanding multi-brand retailer USC and Premium chain Flannels, of which he owns 75%.



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