• Sports Direct has raised its interest in Debenhams to 29.7%.
  • The firm says it sees "huge value" for both companies in a strategic partnership between Debenhams and Sports Direct.
Sports Direct has raised its interest in Debenhams to 29.7%

Sports Direct has raised its interest in Debenhams to 29.7%

UK sportswear retailer Sports Direct International has once again increased its stake in British department store group Debenhams in the latest of a series made since 2014.

In an announcement on Friday (2 March), Sports Direct said it has raised its interest in Debenhams to 29.7%.

Sports Direct first purchased a holding in Debenhams over three years ago. In January 2014, the sports chain sold the holding just days after purchasing it in order to "explore options" at an operational level. It has since steadily increased this, with the last purchase made in August of last year.

"We see huge value for both companies in a strategic partnership between Debenhams and Sports Direct," says Liam Rowley, head of strategic investments at Sports Direct. "There are obvious synergies that can be achieved through the integration of our respective web operations. We also see opportunities to work together internationally.

"Importantly, there is scope for greater collaboration in the UK in order to roll out an elevated offering to consumers. We believe Sports Direct can complement Debenhams very well across the spectrum."

Ashley has a history of building up positions in rival retailers, and of purchasing stakes in well-known brands that are struggling. 

There has been speculation as to whether the billionaire will attempt a full takeover of Debenhams, but Sports Direct has insisted in the past that it simply wants to be a "supportive stakeholder" in the group.

Last month, the UK department store retailer announced it may axe up to one-quarter of its store manager roles as part of its turnaround strategy.

Debenhams may axe 320 store manager roles