Friday 27 April 2018

Mike Ashley's Sports Direct firm 'buys Boyers department store for €12.5m'


Peter Flanagan Commercial Property Editor

A company controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is said to have bought the former Boyers department store in central Dublin, in a deal estimated at €12.5m.

Retailer Sports Direct is believed to have bought the property from developer Noel Smyth.

Boyers closed its doors in January with the loss of 83 direct or concession-based jobs.

Mr Smyth and his Fitzwiliam Finance Partners made the decision to sell Boyers and will focus his concentration on Arnotts, which he took control of last year in the same deal that saw him take a controlling interest in Boyers as well.

Sports Direct is believed to have beaten off competition from the likes of Aldi and Lidl to take on the store. The company had been reported to be interested in taking a stake in the defunct Clerys department store nearby, but instead has taken on all of Boyers.

While Mr Ashley has been involved in Ireland since taking a 50pc stake in the Heatons chain, he does not have any Sports Direct stores in the Republic at present.

Mr Ashley has earned notoriety in both business and football circles through the years. His ownership of Newcastle has been criticised regularly - the club has just been relegated from the Premier League - while Sports Direct has been accused of treating staff poorly.

Last December Sports Direct said it would pay above the UK minimum wage after a newspaper investigation showed staff  being forced to spend unpaid time being searched at the end of shifts and penalties for clocking in as little as one minute late.

He has also been involved in a long running stand off with UK politicians about whether he should appear before a parliamentary committee to be questioned about Sports Direct’s work practices including zero hours contracts.

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