Billionaire Mike Ashley buys House of Fraser for £90m

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"Court hearings are expected to take place at 7.30 am today, at which orders will be sought appointing individuals from Ernst & Young LLP as administrators of each of the operating companies with immediate effect".

Scott Lennon, Unite regional officer with responsibility for Sports Direct, said: "Sports Direct is a leopard that has not changed its spots and we hope that its poor record on pay and employment practices are not transferred to the House of Fraser".

Now, the government has indicated that it could bow to mounting pressure to reform the punitive business rates system after the tax was named among factors which contributed to House of Fraser's downfall. In administration, Ashley will be able to choose which parts of House of Fraser he wants and those parts he does not. Our deal was conservative, consistent and simple.

In an announcement on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange earlier this morning, where its bonds are listed, House of Fraser had said "discussions with interested investors and its main secured creditors have not concluded in a solvent solution".

"This will benefit both House of Fraser and Flannels in the luxury sector".

Sky News revealed last week that Mr Ashley was in talks about providing a rescue package to keep HoF afloat, although in recent days he had faced serious competition to buy the business from Philip Day, the billionaire behind Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group.

Yet many of House of Fraser's creditors objected to the plan.

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It is unclear what Mr Ashley's plans are for the chain - but the move could in theory offer a reprieve for staff and customers.

Mr Ashley's deal ends the tussle for the chain as an unprecedented list of high street names battle to avoid collapse.

The deal will see the Newcastle United owner tighten his grip over the British high street, adding to his sports retailing and "premium fashion" empire.

House of Fraser has been plunged into fresh crisis after C.banner, the Chinese owner of Hamleys, pulled its investment into the troubled retail chain.

Two months ago, the company announced that the Worcester store was to close in 2019 with the loss of 149 jobs.

The Unite union said despite a media storm over the treatment of staff at Sports Direct's Shirebrook warehouse, wages remained at a minimum and employment conditions were "threadbare".

Trade union Mandate has expressed serious concern about the store and said that it is seeking information from the retailer.

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