Mike Ashley’s takeovers of well-known retailers have cost 6,000 retail jobs and more than £1bn in unpaid bills.

An analysis of his purchases of troubled retailers, often through pre-pack administration deals with administrators, showed he has made the most of insolvency rules to construct his empire, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Ashley has swooped on a number of retailers in recent month but his deals have often proved controversial. Last week he bought Evans Cycles out of administration, but said he would shut half of the retailer’s shops, prompting hundreds of job losses.

Ashley said then: “In order to save the business, we only believe we will be able to keep 50% of stores open in the future.”

His most high-profile deal this year was the acquisition of department store group House of Fraser, also out of administration.

Ashley pledged to make House of Fraser the ‘Harrods of the high street’ but immediately became embroiled in rows with landlords about terms on which stores could remain open, while many suppliers to House of Fraser under its former ownership were left out of pocket.

However, while some House of Fraser stores are being shut, such as Kendal’s in Manchester, Ashley has invested in others such as the flagship branch in Glasgow.