Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley has fired department store group House of Fraser’s management.
Ashley’s cull of HoF’s top brass follows his £90m acquisition of House of Fraser out of administration in August, after which he attacked former management led by chair Frank Slevin for allegedly misleading suppliers.
In a terse statement this evening Sports Direct said: “Following the collapse of House of Fraser on August 10, 2018, and subsequent calls for an investigation into the circumstances of that collapse, the company today announces that we have dismissed the former directors and senior management of House of Fraser.”
Affected managers were not listed, but it is thought likely by industry observers that former chief executive Alex Williamson was among those shown the door.
House of Fraser went down owing almost £1bn to creditors, headed by XPO Logistics, which was left out of pocket to the tune of £30.4m. Ashley, who was not obliged to pay the previous owner’s bills, attracted fire for not doing so.
At the start of September, Ashley called for the Insolvency Service to launch an inquiry into the company’s former directors during its ownership by Chinese tycoon Yuan Yafei’s conglomerate Sanpower.
Ashley said then: “I believe that XPO and others were totally misled by Frank Slevin and the House of Fraser board, and the demise of House of Fraser should be fully investigated.”
Sports Direct’s acquisition of House of Fraser, which Ashley aims to turn into the ‘Harrods of the high street’, has been hampered by the fall-out from Sanpower’s ownership.
As well as ill will among suppliers left nursing losses, House of Fraser’s website had to shut down as XPO refused to handle orders. Customers were infuriated when purchases were not honoured. Some shoppers even marched into stores to take away the goods they felt entitled to.