Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has completed his acquisition of Agent Provocateur, Retail Week understands.
The tycoon has swooped on the lingerie business through a pre-pack administration deal as he steps up efforts to build a portfolio of luxury brands.
Sources close to the situation told Retail Week that Ashley trumped rival bidder Lion Capital after showing “a real passion” for the brand during the bidding process.
It is believed that Ashley “really wanted” to add the business to his stable and personally attended meetings in London in order to finalise the deal.
Retail Week understands that Ashley has snapped up Agent Provocateur – which was put up for sale by 3i in January after suffering sluggish sales – through two separate entities, the names of which are currently unknown.
One of the holding companies will take on the Agent Provocateur brand name, while the other has acquired its business and assets.
Four Marketing, which has experience of running upmarket fashion brands, will take responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the business.
Sports Direct owns a 25% shareholding in Four Marketing, after purchasing a stake in the firm for £35m back in 2015.
Ashley has voiced his ambition to become “the Selfridges of sports” and is mulling moves to offload more of Sports Direct’s lower-end brands.
The retailer has already sold Dunlop, while the likes of Everlast, Kangol and Lonsdale could also be on the block.
In contrast, Sports Direct shelled out £108m for a prime property on Oxford Street which is being converted into a Flannels flagship store.
Sports Direct has also acquired a stake in French Connection, one of the clothing brands that Flannels stocks.