House of Fraser has remained coy on reports Mike Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, is looking to acquire a stake in the department store retailer.

Ashley is believed to have been in talks with selected House of Fraser shareholders about buying out investors and forming a strategic partnership, according to The Telegraph.

If Ashley does buy an interest in House of Fraser, it would be the third deal aimed at moving his sports retail chain further upmarket, the report noted. 

However, a spokesperson for House of Fraser declined to comment on the situation when contacted by just-style today (26 November).

The department store retailer's shareholders include Icelandic bank Landsbanki, House of Fraser's chairman Don McMarthy and TBH Trading.

Last year, Sports Direct acquired a majority stake in fashion firms West Coast Capital (USC) and Cruise Clothing Ltd (Cruise) in a deal worth GBP7.0m (US$11.2m).

It also saw its sales increase 18% last month on the back of Olympic spending and an "excellent back-to-school period".

House of Fraser, which operates 62 stores in the UK & Ireland, reported a 1.7% rise in half-year like-for-like sales in September on the back of increased online sales.