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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jon Robinson

Mike Ashley's retail empire buys into fashion giant Boohoo

The retail empire owned by billionaire Mike Ashley has bought into fashion giant Boohoo.

Frasers Group, which owns brands such as Sports Direct and House of Frasers, has become one of the largest single shareholders in the Manchester-headquartered giant.

The move comes after the group recently invested £75m in Bolton-headquartered electricals group AO before later increasing its stake to just over 21% to become its largest shareholder.

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Over the last 18 months, Frasers Group has acquired Lancashire-headquartered Studio Retail as well as Manchester's Missguided out of administration.

It also bought Manchester-based I Saw It First while it has been building a sizeable stake in fashion group N Brown, which is also headquartered in the city.

Frasers Group now owns 5% of Boohoo, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is worth around £440m.

Co-founder Mahmud Kamani remains the largest shareholder while other investors include Camelot Capital Partners, T. Rowe Price International, FIL Investment Advisors (UK) and Norges Bank Investment Management.

Frasers Group's investment in Boohoo also comes after it acquired an 8.9% stake in electricals retailer Currys earlier this week.

In a statement Frasers Group said: "Driving growth through strategic investments is a core part of Frasers' DNA. Under Michael Murray's leadership, we continue to build on our long track record of establishing supportive shareholder positions in attractive retail companies.

"We have a clear strategy to identify opportunities to invest in businesses which complement our existing sport, premium and luxury businesses, or help us to build and further utilise our sector-leading ecosystem.

"Boohoo is an attractive proposition to us with its laser focus on young female consumers. We see potential synergies and an opportunity to strengthen our own brand proposition in collaboration with Boohoo, most obviously with Frasers Group brands I Saw It First and Missguided.

"Our investment in Currys provides us with a valuable opportunity to build on our foothold in the electricals industry as well as deepening the existing relationship between Currys and Studio, with the potential for further collaboration between the two.

"Through this investment, we also believe Currys will benefit from Frasers' deep retail know-how and our sector-leading ecosystem."

In May, BusinessLive reported that Boohoo lost more than £90m during its latest financial year as the cost-of-living crisis squeezed shoppers.

The group posted a pre-tax loss of £90.7m for the 12 months to February 28, 2023, compared to a profit of £7.8m in the prior year and £92.2m in the period before that.

Its revenue also slipped from £1.98bn to £1.76bn over the year although the latest figure is still ahead of the £1.23bn it reported in 2020.

UK revenue fell 9% in the year but was still 61% higher than 2020's regional total. International revenue fell 13% but was up 22% on 2020.

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