// Frasers Group & JD Sports lock horns over the acquisition of shoe retailer Office
// Office is seeking new funding in a bid to survive through the coronavirus pandemic
Mike Ashley and Peter Cowgill are reportedly in a race to acquire shoe retailer Office, just days after they locked horns over a controversial order for JD Sports to sell Footasylum.
Frasers Group boss Ashley and JD Sports’ executive chairman Cowgill are among the the bidders for Office, which is seeking new funding to help it survive through the Covid-19 crisis, Sky News reported.
Office’s owner Truworths International is also considering whether it should retake control of parts of the company.
- Sports Direct & House of Fraser managers allegedly asked to work on furlough
- Office urgently seeks new owner
On Thursday, the CMA told JD Sports that it must offload Footasylum, which it bought last year for £90 million.
Cowgill said the decision was “extraordinary”, and that it relied on “an inaccurate and outdated analysis of the UK sports retail competitive landscape”.
He said that he would consider whether to appeal against the CMA’s decision.
Cowgill added that Frasers Group had “made numerous public announcements confirming their ongoing investment in their elevation strategy and who has blatantly participated in the process for their own commercial interests rather than for the benefit of consumers”.
It was unclear on Friday whether Ashley’s interest in Office was being expressed through Frasers Group or one of his private investment vehicles.
Meanwhile, Frasers Group shareholders have previously expressed concerns over Ashley’s buying spree – which has in the past included Evans Cycles, Game Digital, House of Fraser, Jack Wills and Sofa.com.
Shares in Frasers Group have fallen by about 13 per cent during the past year, reflecting concerns about its ability to move upmarket with House of Fraser.
It now has a market value of just £1.3 billion.
Moreover, Office’s sale is being handled by professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, and is likely to conclude this month.
Office trades from 130 stores in the UK and Europe, and last changed hands in a £250 million deal in 2015.