December 3 is the date to tune in as Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley goes to Parliament. Ashley has vowed to save the high street and this will be his chance to explain how that might happen.
Ashley, who has so far this year stepped in to buy both House of Fraser and Evans Cycles out administration, says, in an announcement released to the stockmarket this week, that politicians and landlords could be doing more than they are.
He’s planning to attend the Housing, Community and Local Government Committee evidence session on December 3 as part of its ongoing inquiry into High streets and town centres in 2030. As yet, however, he has not been listed on the official website as a witness.
Ashley said: “Since we acquired House of Fraser, we’ve been working around the clock to save as many stores and jobs as possible. I believe politicians and landlords should be doing more to save our struggling high streets, so I intend to make the most of this opportunity to make a real difference.”
A spokesman for Sports Direct added: “The MPs originally wanted somebody from House of Fraser to speak for about 15 minutes as part of a panel of four, and said they didn’t mind who it was. Mike thought that wouldn’t achieve anything, so instead he demanded to go along in person for a full hour.”
House of Fraser went into administration this summer, despite its landlords accepting a CVA plan to rescue the business by closing 31 of its 59 stores, at a cost of 6,000 jobs.
So far, says Sports Direct, it has saved more than 20 House of Fraser stores including those on London’s Oxford Street – previously earmarked for closure by House of Fraser, pre-administration – and the Frasers store in Glasgow, which it bought for £95m in October. When it bought the House of Fraser group in August, he was reported to have said he would save 47 stores.
The High streets and town centres in 2030 inquiry launched in May. Since then it’s heard from town planners, landlords and place management groups, as well as representatives of the retail industry on the challenges facing the 21st century high street.
Image courtesy of House of Fraser