Sports Direct boss Dave Forsey has supposedly held secret discussions with House of Fraser. These reportedly relate to the implementation of London’s Lillywhites shop-in-shops in some of the British retailer’s department stores.
Mike Ashley, Sports Direct’s Deputy Chairman and majority owner, attempted to intervene in the acquisition of the high street giant by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower last year, by buying an 11% piece of the pie.
Unfortunately for him, a £480m takeover was finalised in September
According to The Telegraph, talks between Sports Direct and House of Fraser’s Chief Exec Nigel Oddy are at an early stage and House of Fraser has already rejected the idea of taking on Sports Direct branded shop-in-shops. Ashley acquired Lillywhites in 2002 from Portugal’s Jerónimo Martins.
Ashley could be hoping to push Sports Direct’s reach in international markets and has suggested rolling out Lillywhites in China through Sanpower.
But as the newspaper reports, while Sanpower’s owner, Yafei Yuan, is keen to add sportswear to his empire, there are concerns about Lillywhite’s Asian growth potential, as the majority of sportswear brands are already available at low prices in China.
Sanpower has pledged to invest £25m on opening House of Fraser shops in China over the next two years and refurbing existing UK stores.
Sports Direct has already capitalised on its 16% share in Debenhams to introduce a number of shop-in-shops within the department store. It has said that it wants to have 16 in this format by the middle of next year.
Last month Debenhams CEO Michael Sharp announced he would be stepping down after five years at the chain. He had been attempting to increase the company’s fortunes by cutting back on discounting and making better use of floor space with promising concessions.