Sports Direct International has saved U.K. department store chain House of Fraser at the eleventh hour, agreeing to pay $115 million for the 169-year-old company.
House of Fraser, which operates 59 stores throughout Britain and Ireland, went to court Friday to seek protection from its creditors, reports Bloomberg. U.K. billionaire Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, will get the stores, the brand name and the inventory. He is likely to rebrand some of the department stores as Sports Direct stores, according to Richard Lim, CEO of Retail Economics.
Ashley, moreover, holds a stake in department store chain Debenhams and also owns the Newcastle United soccer club.
Britain lost upwards of a quarter of its department stores in 2010, Bloomberg reports, citing retail consulting firm Altus Group.
“This is a hugely ambitious move for Sports Direct,” Lim said in a written statement. “Turning around the business will not come easy.”
By Edmund Mander