…Going twice… Sold!: Mike Ashley wins auction to buy Jack Wills

August 8, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Mike Ashley has once again attempted to save another business from the so-called dying high street by buying Jack Wills out of administration through his company Sports Direct.

What does this mean?

The £12.75 million sale means that Sports Direct will be acquiring 100 Jack Wills stores and 1,700 staff as part of the deal.

According to the most recent results, Jack Wills reported a £14.2m operating loss. Due to this, Suzanne Harlow, chief executive of Jack Wills, said “the company’s long-term future would be best served as part of a larger group and Sports Direct will enable us to do this.”

Jack Wills also has 10 overseas stores, whose fate may be hanging in the balance.

What's the big picture effect?

Firstly, this story shows, once again, the struggle that the high street and (what were thought to be) famous brands/labels are facing in the current consumer and economic climate. With the rise of online shopping and cheaper, faster alternatives, less people are shopping at brick-and-mortar stores and investing in labels. Jack Wills is just the latest in a line of other shops who have needed saving, including Toys R Us and BHS, who obviously weren’t able to be bought out.

Mike Ashley has become known to be a saviour for such brands after his acquisition of House of Fraser in 2018. Although, Sports Direct recently admitted that it regretted “saving” House of Fraser as it found their problems “nothing short of terminal”. Ultimately, Sports Direct admitted they would still have to close more stores.

Following this, it will be interesting to see whether the Jack Wills acquisition is a success story for Mike Ashley and the Sports Direct company. Sports Direct have said their plan is to reduce the rent on their stores in order to keep them open. Highlighting the issue being the high rent prices, maybe it’s time for shops’ rent to be regulated to prevent landlords charging exorbitant amounts?   

Do you think such brands should be saved from the high street, even if it might not work out? Or do you think we should accept their fate and move online?

Report written by Harina Chandhok

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