Sports Direct has bought fashion firm Jack Wills out of administration, as retail mogul Mike Ashley presses on with an acquisition spree that has appeared to be backfiring badly in recent weeks. The deal means a stay of execution for 1,700 staff working in Jack Wills’ 100 UK stores and its six franchises, including several in the Middle East. Sports Direct’s billionaire boss has orchestrated an array of acquisitions and attempted purchases of struggling businesses in recent years, with mixed results. The biggest was House of Fraser, which Sports Direct bought out of administration last August for £90m and recently described as “terminal” in its financial results. The profit update was repeatedly delayed in shambolic scenes that saw the company reveal a surprise €674m (£605m) tax bill. Ashley also owns a 19% stake in five-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres, which is embroiled in an accounting scandal. He has also bought struggling Game Digital, owns Evans Cycles and Sofa.com, and tried unsuccessfully to buy Debenhams and Findel, the online retail and education group. Jack Wills will become part of a new division within Sports Direct, which said it wants to expand into “buying and building” fashion and sports brands… Read full this story
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