Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley who has been steadily building up an interest in Debenhams increased his stake yet again yesterday and now owns 17% of its shares.
Ashley has once again used his signature share acquisition technique of a “contracts for differences” arrangement to up his interest in the department store chain, which recently unveiled details of a turnaround plan that puts customer experience and digital as the centre of its strategy.
His intentions with Debenhams are not known – newspaper reports have suggested Ashley has positioned himself as a “supportive shareholder” – but he enjoys acquiring stakes in retailers for no apparent obvious reason. He owns a 9% stake in rival department store House of Fraser and an 11% stake in fashion retailer French Connection.
Recently Four Holdings, owner of fashion agency Four Marketing, in which Sports Direct holds a significant stake, acquired lingerie brand Agent Provocateur out of administration.