The founder and CEO of Sports Direct now controls almost 30m sq.ft of UK retail space.
Analysis by Radius Data Exchange shows that this 30m sq.ft amounts to around 2.5% of all UK retail space. In comparison Sainsburys have 23.2m sq.ft. and Tesco 40m sq.ft. of space.
The portfolio consists of Sports Direct stores plus others which have been secured in recent years including House of Fraser, Flannels, USC, Agent Provocateur, Evans Cycles plus shareholdings in Debenhams, French Connection and Game Digital. Ashley has also been connected with a takeover of HMV which would have added another 0.5m sq.ft. of space, although another party now seems to have secured a deal for most of the stores.
In times when the high street is seemingly doomed as a shopping destination some might think this kind of expansionism is an odd business strategy. However, others will point to Ashley’s ability to negotiate with landlords of the beleaguered businesses he takes over. Could it be that a brilliant plan to dominate the UK’s retail property industry without buying it up as such is slowly slotting into place?