3% of non-food retail sales go via Mike Ashley’s empire

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// 3.2% of non-food retail purchases go through a business Mike Ashley has a stake in
// He is in pole position to buy Sofa.com
// He could also potentially buy HMV and Patisserie Valerie out of administration

Mike Ashley’s influence on the UK’s retail industry has been laid bare as research reveals over three per cent of all non-food UK retail sales go through businesses he has a major stake in.

The retail tycoon and billionaire, who last year purchased House of Fraser and Evans Cycles out of administration and is now reportedly in talks to take over HMV and Sofa.com, has significantly expanded his presence on the UK’s high streets over the past five years.

According to retail analyst firm GlobalData, 3.2 per cent of all spending on non-food products in the UK go via retailers he has a stake in.

“Mike Ashley has had a significant impact on the UK retail market in the past year, buying failing brands at a low price and aiming to turn their fortunes around,” GlobalData’s Sofie Willmott said.

“Given the well-known yet unrelated retailers that Ashley’s Sports Direct has purchased, it is unclear exactly what his long-term strategy is, but his growing group of brands will enable him to achieve economies of scale in terms of the supply chain, giving him greater buying power which will improve gross margins.

His main business Sports Direct is 57 per cent owned by Mash Holdings, which owns the vast majority of Ashley’s assets, including Newcastle United which he bought for £135 million.

Alongside the brands he owns including Slazenger, Everlast, Lonsdale, Karrimor, Kangol, No Fear, MuddyFox, Lillywhites, LA Gear, Gelert, Title, Crafted, SoulCal, Voodoo Dolls and Firetrap, Ashley has amassed a huge portfolio of shareholdings and ownerships.

These includes full control of Flannels, a near-30 per cent stake in Debenhams, a 26 per cent stake in Game, 30 per cent stake in Findel, a 27 per cent stake in French Connection, and a five per cent stake in MySale.

MySale also counts Sir Philip Green as a shareholder.

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