Sport Direct founder Mike Ashley is renowned for his provocative behaviour – but the retail mogul caught the sector’s attention today for a different reason.

As revealed by Retail Week, Ashley has completed an audacious bid for struggling lingerie retailer Agent Provocateur.

It is understood that Ashley won out against rival bidder Lion Capital after demonstrating “a real passion” for the brand during the bidding process.

His bid to build a portfolio of luxury brands and overall ambition to create “the Selfridges of sport” has gained pace in recent months, after he acquired a stake in French Connection in February.

How Agent Provocateur will fit into Sports Direct’s fluctuating suite of brands remains to be seen – but could it be that Ashley is in the process of building a new kind of retail empire with uncharacteristically quiet determination?

While one well-known industry name is making moves that could change the news narrative, another continues to behave exactly as expected.

The last owner of BHS, Dominic Chappell, has vowed not to pay to cover the collapsed retailer’s pension deficit in a move that will have surprised no one.

And it was bad news for Travis Perkins, which attributed its slump in full-year profits to a slowdown in the housing market.

Quote of the day

“Any significant reduction in consumer confidence may have a more pronounced impact on big-ticket purchases such as kitchens and bathrooms which make up around 10% of the group’s sales”

– Travis Perkins chief executive John Carter

Today in numbers


The amount that the Pensions Regulator is understood to be seeking from Retail Acquisitions to cover the BHS deficit


The decline in Travis Perkins full-year profits

Friday’s agenda

There are no trading updates scheduled for tomorrow, but keep an eye out for our weekly video round-up of the week’s biggest news stories in The Retail Week’s 100th episode.

Grace Bowden, Reporter