Mike Ashley’s retail behemoth Frasers Group eyes I Saw It First

Sunday 17 July 2022 11:30 a.m.

Sports Direct International founder Mike Ashley. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Mike Ashley’s retail empire may make a foray into I Saw It First, an online fast-fashion brand owned by Boohoo founder Jalal Kamani.

According to a report by The Telegraph, the Frasers Group could add I Saw It First to its list of retail acquisitions in a matter of weeks.

Telegraph sources told the newspaper that a deal may not yet materialize.

Kamani helped found Boohoo with his brother Mahmud before launching I Saw it First in 2017.

Boohoo and the Frasers group have previously clashed in ailing e-commerce and trademark takeover battles.

The owner of Sports Direct acquired beleaguered fashion platform Missguided earlier this year, despite rumors of takeover interest from rival Boohoo.

Additionally, the two companies were locked in a fight over department store chain Debenhams when it collapsed into administration amid the pandemic.

Boohoo acquired the Main Street website out of administration.

In recent weeks, the Frasers Group has taken a 29 percent stake in Australian fashion platform MySale.

The company said the holding company would create “an opportunity for a strategic partnership whereby the end-of-line group’s products can be settled through an established settlement channel.”

The group has also increased its stake in German luxury fashion brand Hugo Boss. Frasers now owns 4.9 percent of Hugo Boss shares directly and another 26 percent indirectly through the sale of derivatives known as put options.

The group acquired some assets from Studio Retail Group in February 2022, as well as embarking on a takeover campaign for the collapsed department store chain Debenhams in 2020.

The Frasers “are certainly trying to position themselves as a leader in the retail industry, bringing together a great portfolio of brands,” said Wizz Selvey, retail strategy guru and former head of buying at Selfridges. CityA.M. last month.

The group was selecting a very diverse range of businesses covering different demographics, it added, pointing to its pandemic attempts to acquire the estate of the Debenhams store.

The Frasers Group is always looking for something that can bring additional resources or skills, or historically it has been the physical space that [they] have been able to use within the business,” he added.

“What’s interesting about the Missguided acquisition is that it’s a digital-only brand,” allowing Frasers Group to reap the rewards of the Manchester-based retailer’s “digital skills.”

In May, Frasers’ new boss, Michael Murray, claimed the retailer’s former boss and future father-in-law was “not pulling the strings”.

In his first interview since stepping into Mike Ashley’s shoes as chief executive, Murray also warned that prices would likely go up across all brands, including Sports Direct.

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