Sports Direct takes full control of House of Fraser in Dundrum

Mike Ashley’s retailing group concludes transaction with administrators EY

The deal for House of Fraser in Dundrum was concluded on Tuesday.

The deal for House of Fraser in Dundrum was concluded on Tuesday.

 

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International group has taken formal control of the House of Fraser store in Dundrum, Dublin.

EY, the UK-based administrators of the House of Fraser group, confirmed that the Dundrum deal was concluded on Tuesday.

“EY . . . is pleased to confirm that the sale of the Dundrum store to Sports Direct Group successfully concluded on 23rd October,” the firm said. “Throughout the administration and acquisition process it has been business as usual at House of Fraser Dundrum, with the store continuing to trade as normal.”

Retail sources said Mr Ashley’s company, which in August paid £90 million (€102 million) to buy the entire House of Fraser group out of insolvency proceedings overseen by EY, took immediate possession of the Dundrum store on Tuesday.

Competition clearance

The sale of the Dundrum outlet, which employs 220 staff, was held up pending clearance from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). It gave the formal nod to the deal earlier this month, without extending it to a more detailed “phase two” inquiry.

Mr Ashley and Sports Direct, which also owns the Heatons department store chain, has emerged in recent years as a major player on the Irish retail scene. Sports Direct is also the largest shareholder in Debenhams.

Executives at the Irish arm of Sports Direct say he sees short-term expansion in this market as a “big opportunity”.

“What’s our aim for Ireland?” said Leonard Brassel, the managing director of Sports Direct Ireland, in an interview with The Irish Times in August, as the House of Fraser deal was being hammered out.

“In a word: growth. We have an aggressive investment programme to roll out.”

As part of its Elevation strategy, Sports Direct is revamping stores to take them more upmarket, and also co-locating them on large sites with other brands, such as its youth label chain USC, and Flannels.

The group is currently seeking huge 9,290sq m (100,000sq ft) retail outlets in Ireland that it could convert into premium Sports Direct outlets under Elevation, similar to its recently-opened Thurrock megastore in the UK.

Sports Direct executives privately acknowledge that only a handful of sites as large as the Dundrum House of Fraser exist in Ireland. The more than 100,000sq ft over four floors unit, therefore, gives the group a clear option in this regard.