Wednesday 18 September 2019

Mike Ashley demands audience with MPs as he pledges to save the high street

The Sports Direct founder said landlords and politicians needed to do more for retail.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley in the stands during the Premier League match at St James’ Park, Newcastle.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley in the stands during the Premier League match at St James’ Park, Newcastle.

By Alys Key, Press Association City Reporter

Mike Ashley has demanded an audience with MPs as he slammed politicians for their approach to the struggling British high street.

The Sports Direct founder pledged to save the high street ahead of an appearance in front of a select committee next month, accusing politicians and landlords of not doing enough.

Mr Ashley is to attend for a full hour after MPs initially invited a representative for House of Fraser to speak for 15 minutes, according to a Sports Direct spokesperson.

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Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration in August (Aaron Chown/PA)

Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration in August, making the department store the latest addition to Mr Ashley’s high street acquisition streak.

“Since we acquired House of Fraser, we’ve been working around the clock to save as many stores and jobs as possible,” Mr Ashley said in a statement.

“I believe politicians and landlords should be doing more to save our struggling high streets, so I intend to make the most of this opportunity to make a real difference.”

The meeting of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee will take place on December 5 as part of an ongoing inquiry into the future of the high street.

A spokesman for Sports Direct added: “The MPs originally wanted somebody from House of Fraser to speak for about 15 minutes as part of a panel of four, and said they didn’t mind who it was.

“Mike thought that wouldn’t achieve anything, so instead he demanded to go along in person for a full hour.”

Mr Ashley has previously been vocal in his criticism of retail landlords, who he has blamed for the planned closure of several House of Fraser stores.

He urged institutional landlords to be “more proactive” earlier this month after announcing the closure of four House of Fraser branches in shopping centres owned by Intu.

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