// Mike Ashley criticised by landlord for refusing to pay rents on stores but offering £50m lifeline to Arcadia prior to its administration
// Frasers Group landlord First Property Group CEO Ben Habib criticised Ashley for “inexcusable” payment delays and owing thousands in unpaid rent
// First Property Group is considering legal action against Frasers Group next year if it does not pay its rent bill
Mike Ashley has reportedly come under fire after offering a £50 million lifeline to Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group before it collapsed, but refusing to pay rent on some stores.
First Property Group chief executive Ben Habib, who is a landlord for Ashley’s Frasers Group, has criticised the tycoon for “inexcusable” payment delays and owing hundreds of thousands in unpaid rent, The Telegraph reported.
Despite Ashley’s offer, Arcadia rejected his offer and called in administrators on Monday, which has placed 13,000 jobs at risk.
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Frasers Group chief financial officer Chris Wootton said prior to Arcadia’s administration that he hoped Green would contact him to discuss how Frasers Group can support them and “help save as many jobs as possible”.
“Buying distressed assets and saving jobs is a positive thing. But if you are simultaneously refusing to honour your debts, you are in effect buying them with other people’s capital,” Habib said.
“In this case, that of vulnerable pensioners. In the midst of a pandemic, this is inexcusable.”
First Property Group is now considering legal action against Frasers Group next year if it does not pay its rent bill.
Frasers Group wrote to all landlords last month to ask property owners to be flexible on payments as it entered into a second lockdown.
The retail group, which owns Sports Direct, said it has paid landlords “who have accepted our very reasonable request to ‘share the pain’ of store closures during lockdown and accept 50 per cent rent for the closed periods”.