Sports Direct boss raises Debenhams stake above 20%
We still don’t know what Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley intends to do long term with the company’s Debenhams stake but it grows bigger every month. On Tuesday we learned that it has now tipped over 20% and in fact, his latest 2% buy means it has reach as much as 21%.
The department store chain’s shares have been slumbering recently and despite rising slightly Tuesday morning they opened at 40p earlier in the day, a low not reached during this decade.
Ashley has a history of buying both complete companies and strategic stakes where he sees opportunities to turn around struggling businesses. He has also built a sizeable stake in ailing fashion retailer French Connection. His holding in that firm is just a few percent away from the 30% threshold at which he would have to launch a full takeover attempt.
He’s not quite at that level with Debenhams yet but with his holding giving him over 10% of the voting rights in the firm, his influence is bound to be felt as the chain continues its turnaround efforts.
Debenhams has seen its share price falling 28% this year as lower footfall and a too-slow rise in online sales has dampened its attempts to spur growth.
Under still-new CEO Sergio Bucher, a former Amazon executive, it is trying to reinvent itself as a destination for ‘social shopping’ that maximises opportunities from an omnichannel approach.
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