The best of the fashion business headlines from the weekend’s newspapers…
The Sunday Times reported that JJB Sports had asked its auditors to investigate expense claims of former chief executive Chris Ronnie. It is understood that Deloitte has compiled a dossier of Ronnie’s expenses as part of an investigation in to whether he had misappropriated company funds, and billed personal entertainment on his company credit card.
Ronnie and JJB Sports are already in a row over the company’s claim that he was dismissed over alleged misconduct. Ronnie insists that he resigned from the company on February 24 but JJB Sports maintains he was dismissed last week.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that liquidators will today auction off 65 million shares in JJB Sports, around a quarter of the company’s stock. The shares belonged to former chief executive Chris Ronnie, who exited the company after an investigation into how the shares were transfered to Icelandic bank Kaupthing, without the board’s knowledge. Ernst & Young and Pricewaterhousecoopers, which are acting as joint liquidators of Kaupthing’s assets after the bank collapsed in October, will oversee the sale.
The report also said that JJB’s major institutional investors were planning to call on the Office of Fair Trading to investigate Ronnie over the share transfer and over his relationship with Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.
The Mail on Sunday reported that Chris Ronnie attended a meeting between Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley and JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan to discuss the future of the sportswear group, despite being suspended from JJB Sports and under investigation by the company. During the meeting Ashley is alleged to have suggested that Whelan drop his bid for JJB’s fitness clubs because he would be able to buy it for less at a later date.
The Sunday Times carried an interview Francois-Henri Pinault, boss of luxury group PPR, which owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. Pinault outlined his plans to make the the business more environmentally friendly, by championing recycling, creating eco-friendly stores and using fair trade suppliers.
The Sunday Times also reported that property firm Liberty International had held secret talks with the owners of Manchester’s Trafford Centre about buying the centre. The newspaper said that Liberty, which owns Lakeside in Essex and Gateshead’s Metrocentre, is trying to raise £350 million via rights issue.
The Sunday Express reported that Laura Ashley was set to report a 40% drop in annual profits tomorrow to £9 million. The fashion to homeware business has been hit by narrowing margins and the weak pound.