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Sun, Nov 18, 2018
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  2. We’re Reimagining Our Travel Journalism. Tell Us What You’d Like to See.
  3. Why 536 AD was the worst year to be alive
  4. Great Pyramid of Giza: Egyptian Pharaoh ‘HIDDEN in secret chamber’
  5. How will Trump take Amazon move? ‘He will think Bezos made this decision to stick it to him.’
  6. SHARE PUNT OF THE WEEK: Pub chain Fuller’s
  7. Live Statue of Unity: Special coverage of inaugural of world’s tallest statue
  8. Jessie J ‘disappointed’ with fan comparisons to Channing Tatum’s ex Jenna Dewan
  9. NHS system error puts lives at risk as nearly 50,000 women are not sent screening letters
  10. Chiefs fans frustrated after NFL moves game vs. Rams from Mexico City to Los Angeles
  11. Bullets that don’t miss, weaponized insects and more: Innovations from DARPA, America’s secret lab
  12. Alien news: Oregon woman stunned as ’15 shape-changing UFOs’ appear
  13. Mattis heads to US-Mexico border to visit troops awaiting migrant caravan
  14. Telematics insurance has helped cut young driver casualties by a third
  15. Budget 2015 headlines in 4 minutes – BBC News
  16. Michael Douglas says famous dad Kirk Douglas told him his acting debut was ‘absolutely terrible’
  17. Now US regulators vow to ban menthol cigarettes
  18. West Ham midfielder Robert Snodgrass insists his side should be doing better this season
  19. Christian women in Ireland don’t believe in limbo anymore, survey finds
  20. Ancient Egypt bombshell: Shock evidence pyramids built 5,500 years early
  21. California’s Rohrabacher not conceding despite media’s call of Democrat victory
  22. Launch of dedicated ‘Poppy’ bank accounts gives boost for Armed Forces
  23. India’s campaigning Miss World – BBC News
  24. Red Dead Online release date: When does Red Dead Redemption 2 multiplayer come out? | Gaming | Entertainment
  25. Wynn Resorts shares fall 12 percent as it misses earnings estimates
  26. Several former NFL players win midterm races
  27. Facebook starts shipping Portal smart displays
  28. Alien news: Nazi technology ‘exposed as floating bell stuns locals’
  29. Prince Charles won’t speak out when he becomes king
  30. How do I vote if I own shares in a nominee account not paper?
  31. What if UK PM refused to allow another Scottish referendum? BBC News
  32. Legendary stuntwoman Kitty O’Neil dead at 72
  33. Opioid overdoses killed 200 Americans a DAY last year, DEA report reveals
  34. Transfer news LIVE: Neymar to Barcelona shock, Man Utd wage problem, Chelsea swap deal | Football | Sport
  35. Victorian street demolished in Second World War is found in Cornwall
  36. NASA spots huge ‘thermal anomaly’ in Atlantic Ocean sparking frenzy
  37. Avenatti stars in ‘avenging angel’ role
  38. Property prices pushed down by over valuations, a lack of supply and Brexit, say estate agents
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  40. Jason Aldean, wife Brittany Kerr reveal daughter’s name at baby shower
  41. Phoenix Coldon’s mysterious disappearance perplexes retired officer in new doc: ‘I want to help bring some closure’
  42. Marsha Blackburn leads Phil Bredesen
  43. Is Russia still meddling in US politics? – BBC News
  44. Raheem Sterling arrives for Manchester City training with ‘Fully Paid’ hat
  45. Where to see the best fall foliage across the country
  46. New ‘sensitive’ cervical cancer screening could save women from smear tests after 55
  47. Alien news: UFO spotted ‘taking off from the moon’ in BOMBSHELL clip
  48. Sky finally launches Netflix via its Sky Q boxes
  49. John Schneider reveals ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ memories, weighs in on Tom Wopat troubles
  50. Angela Merkel’s political challenges – BBC News
  51. Essential Gear for Traveling Solo
  52. Paul Zimmerman, acclaimed NFL writer known as ‘Dr. Z,’ dead at 86
  53. Britain’s first double hand transplant patient can now open his door
  54. Ghost news: Man is ‘followed around haunted house by girl in a cape’
  55. Florida mayor accused of asking resident for sex in exchange for neighborhood speed bumps
  56. Is Mike Ashley King of the High Street? As he bags Evans Cycles, what else is in his retail empire?
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  59. Manchester United stars arrive for training ahead of Bournemouth clash
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  65. World’s Tallest Statue Cost $420 Million, Tivals The Space Needle | NBC News
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  105. ‘Half my family is gone’: Mom mourns Iowa family found dead at Mexico resort
  106. March for our Lives rallies happening in every U.S. state: ‘We’re here and coming to make a change’


The retail industry is enduring its worst year since the financial crash, with around 4,000 store closures triggering nearly 50,000 job losses.

Many once-loved chains that have failed to keep pace have either gone bust or are on their last legs.

But when the going gets tough, Mike Ashley, it seems, gets his wallet out.  

Mike Ashley owns and has shares in a cluster of retail firms like Game and French Connection

Mike Ashley owns and has shares in a cluster of retail firms like Game and French Connection

As the bears seize on retail stocks and drive their value down, the billionaire tycoon has been out shopping for bargains. And as firms fall, Ashley has been ready and willing to catch them.

After all, as they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Well, retail’s ‘White Knight’ has been up to his old tricks again, seizing on cycling specialist Evans Cycles with a pre-pack rescue deal as it hit the buffers.  

His FTSE 250-listed Sports Direct paid £8million for the failed chain – £92m less than private equity house ECI paid for it three years ago.

Aside from only keeping half of its 62 shops open, it’s not entirely clear what Sports Direct’s plans are for the 100-year old bike firm just yet. 

But, as he bags his latest slice of the down-and-out High Street, what else does Ashley have in his locker?

Ashley’s sports empire 

Ashley launched his sports retail empire in 1982, aged just 18.

Starting with just a single shop in Maidenhead, he has grown the business into the 500-store chain we know today as Sports Direct

Mike Ashley runs Sports Direct and owns a 61.7 per cent stake in the value sports chain

Mike Ashley runs Sports Direct and owns a 61.7 per cent stake in the value sports chain

Mike Ashley runs Sports Direct and owns a 61.7 per cent stake in the value sports chain

Through some bold deal making, Sports Direct has over the years become parent company to a host of other retail chains as well as a cluster of well-known sports brands, including Slazenger, Firetrap, Kangol, Everlast, Karrimor and Lonsdale.

Sports fashion fascias in the Sports Direct group include USC – a Scotland based fashion chain originally known as ‘United Sports Corporation’ – and Lillywhites in Piccadilly Circus.

While it may not everyone’s favourite retailer, the group has a current market value of £1.76billion. 

It hires over 26,500 people across 20 countries and generates annual sales exceeding £3billion.

And of this sports empire, Ashley holds a 61.7 per cent stake.

Department stores

More recently, Ashley has turned his attention to the troubled world of department stores. 

He already owns Flannels – an upmarket department store chain with 34 shops selling luxury brands including Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Vivienne Westwood, as well as small chains Van Mildert and Cruise.

And in August this year, the tycoon hit the headlines for snapping up House of Fraser out of administration in a pre-pack deal worth £90million.

Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration for £90million in August 2018

Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration for £90million in August 2018

Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration for £90million in August 2018

Free from the debt that sunk it, Ashley brought HoF into the Sports Direct family, with ambitions of transforming it into the ‘Harrods of the High Street’. 

He is currently playing hardball with landlords to keep as many of its existing stores open as possible.

Stemming from that deal is rife speculation that Ashley will attempt to broaden his grasp on the department store market further still with a swoop on Debenhams.   

Sports Direct has a near-30 per cent stake in Debenhams which, valued at just £105million after a year of haemorrhaging profits and sales, could soon be ripe for the plucking – especially if its Christmas sales fall short of the mark. 

Other High Street stakes

Ashley’s grasp on the High Street doesn’t end there. 

True to his reputation for buying up stakes in rival retailers, he previously built up a £12.5million stake in JD Sports. 

He sold this in 2016, but since then has acquired a near 20 per cent stake in US sports firm Finish Line, which JD Sports happened to acquire earlier this year – a characteristically strategic move for Ashley.

Game Digital

In July 2017, Sports Direct bought a significant 26 per cent stake in struggling retailer Game Digital

The idea behind the move was to get in on Game’s new pay-to-play gaming arenas. 

Ashley is installing the firm’s fledgling bunkers in some of his bigger sports stores and will pocket 50 per cent of the profits the venture generates. 

Game Digital is striving to restore its fortunes with gaming bunkers at some of its stores

Game Digital is striving to restore its fortunes with gaming bunkers at some of its stores

Game Digital is striving to restore its fortunes with gaming bunkers at some of its stores

French Connection

Sports Direct also owns a chunky 27 per cent stake in French Connection, which has hung the ‘For Sale’ sign amid falling profits and sales.

The fashion chain, once popular for its FCUK slogan T-shirts but now out of favour, said last month that there are four potential suitors circling. Given his existing backing, Ashley could very feasibly be one of them.

Agent Provocateur

And, in a slightly left field move – presumably in line with his high-end department store aspirations – Ashley acquired naughty knicker company Agent Provocateur, and its 11 UK shops, in 2017 for £31million.

Mike Ashley bought Agent Provocateur last year in a controversial pre-pack deal 

Mike Ashley bought Agent Provocateur last year in a controversial pre-pack deal 

Mike Ashley bought Agent Provocateur last year in a controversial pre-pack deal 

What’s next on his shopping list?

With Evans Cycles now in the bag, the acquisitive entrepreneur isn’t likely to stop there. Along with speculation that he may launch a takeover bid for Debenhams, Ashley is believed to be in talks to buy struggling chain American Golf, which would give Sports Direct the stronghold on the UK golf-kit market.

Don’t forget football

But Ashley’s colours aren’t pinned solely to retail. 

Despite recent attempts to sell, the tycoon still owns Newcastle United after buying up Sir John Hall’s stake in the football club in May 2007. 

He previously owned a 8.92 per cent stake in Rangers International Football Club too, but sold this last year.



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