Business

Mike Ashley’s shopping empire buys Missguided in last-minute deal

Frasers Group, the shopping empire founded by Mike Ashley that owns House of Fraser and Sports Direct, has swooped in to save Missguided from collapse.

The company has acquired the embattled online retailer for £20m.

Frasers Group bought all of the related intellectual property of the women’s fashion brand after Missguided announced on Monday it had fallen in to administration.

Its clothing suppliers are still owed millions of pounds.

Michael Murray, the boss of Frasers Group and son-in-law of Mr Ashley, said: “We are delighted to secure a long-term future for Missguided, which will benefit from the strength and scale of FG’s platform and our operational excellence.”

He added: “Missguided’s digital-first approach to the latest trends in women’s fashion will bring additional expertise to the wider Frasers Group.”

Administrators from Teneo were appointed earlier this week after the company was issued with a winding-up petition by clothing suppliers who are owed money.

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About 140 jobs were thought to be at risk, with The Guardian citing a source as saying more than 80 people had been made redundant on Monday.

Boohoo, a larger online fashion retailer, had been in talks to buy Missguided in a prepack administration deal.

JD Sports and ASOS are also thought to have shown some interest, but a deal was not made.

Missguided was founded by Nitin Passi in 2009 when he was just 26, and grew into one of Britain’s biggest online-led fashion retailers, competing with the likes of ASOS and Boohoo.

Its journey was not without serious difficulties, however, including in 2017 when one of its Leicester-based suppliers was accused after an undercover investigation of paying workers less than the minimum wage.

In 2019, it faced scrutiny over the sale of a £1 bikini, but responded by saying that the clothing item had “cost us more to produce than £1 and we’re absorbing the costs so we can offer it at an incredible price as a gift to our customers”.

Missguided did open a handful of physical stores, including one at London’s Westfield shopping centre, but decided to close them after deciding that their operating losses were too large to justify.

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