Sports Direct owner Mike Ashely has launched an attack on Sir Philip Green, insisting he wouldn’t buy his Arcadia retail empire even “for a pound”.

Speaking to The Times, Ashley quashed rumours that Sports Direct was considering purchasing Arcadia – owner of retailers including Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – either directly, or in partnership with Leonard Green & Partners. The American private equity group already owns 25% of Topshop. 

“Let me be completely clear. I wouldn’t buy any part of Arcadia either with Leonard Green or directly for a pound,” Ashley said.

Ashley also took a swipe at Green over Arcadia’s pension deficit and said he wouldn’t get involved in the business for “reputational reasons”. 

“I am not getting involved with that pension deficit in Arcadia for reputational reasons. It is not for me,” Ashley added.

“I don’t know where the story is coming from — for all I know Philip is putting it out there that I am going to buy it — but I am not interested.”

Ashley has already swooped on House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and as he expands his retail empire – and has also been linked with moves for the likes of LK Bennett.

Arcadia is a major supplier to embattled department store chain Debenhams, in which Ashely controls a near 30% stake. 

Ashley and Sports Direct have spent much of the last month at loggerheads with Debenhams in a bid to remove the retailer’s board and install himself as the department store chain’s chief executive.

The Times speculates that Ashley and Green’s previously good relationship has been “strained” by the ongoing battle over Debenhams.