British retailing group Frasers Group is headed by Michael Murray, successor to Mike Ashley, who retains a 62% stake in the business. The retailer rebranded from Sports Direct to reflect its “changing profile” and “elevation strategy”.
Frasers operates around 1600 stores, of which 1000 are located within the UK, across its 35 brands. Whilst its sports retail division accounts for the majority of sales it has moved into fashion, beauty, and electronics. Frasers’ ultimate aim is to become the largest sports goods retailer in Europe but it has also built stakes in businesses in the US and Malaysia.
Under Ashley’s leadership up to May 2022, the group has been focused on acquisition and strategic takeovers:
- Acquired I Saw It First in July 2022
- Acquired Missguided from administration in June 2022
- Acquired Studio Retail from administration in February 2022
- Acquired upmarket fashion retailer Psyche in January 2021
- Acquired gym chain DW Fitness in 2020 to compliment its Sports Direct Fitness offering
- 36.8% stake built in luxury fashion brand Mulberry from beginning of 2020 to 2021
- 16.4% stake built in luxury fashion brand Hugo Boss since 2020
- Game and Jack Wills acquired in 2019
- 37% stake built in catalogue retailer Findel during 2019 but mandatory takeover bid rejected
- Acquired House of Fraser, Evans Cycles, and Sofa.com during 2018
- Part-acquired Agent Provocateur through Four Holdings in 2017
- Acquired upmarket department store Flannels in 2017
- Acquired Sports Eybl & Sports Experts and Sportland in 2013, Heatons in 2015, and Eastern Outfitters during 2017
- Acquired USC, Van Mildert, Cruise, and Republic brands from 2011 to 2013
Not all acquisitions have been successful, such as its near 30% share in Debenhams being wiped out completely when the department store group collapsed in 2019 and its attempts to acquire Arcadia Group in 2020 being thwarted by Asos. It also offloaded its stake in French Connection during 2021.
Frasers posted stellar sales results for FY2021, up 31% versus the previous year to £4.8bn (excluding the recently acquired Studio Retail online business), as store sales recovered post-pandemic.
Innovation rating: 3.5