What is Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group up to?

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group (FRAS) has recently purchased non-controlling shares in a number of British retailers, from fast-fashion brands Boohoo (5%), ASOS (17%) to consumer electrical business Currys (9.4%) and AO World (21.3%), a rival of Currys. The shopping spree adds to an investment portfolio that already included minority stakes in Next, Hugo Boss, Mulberry and N Brown.

The company which has now been under the leadership of Michael Murray, Ashley’s son-in-law, for over a year – maintains that the purchases are “strategic”. However, some investors and City analysts have questioned whether holding a range of minor stakes is of much, if any, benefit to Frasers’ shareholders.

Frasers has a long history of snapping up ailing brands previously took over brands including I Saw It First, Missguided, Evans Cycles, Jack Wills, Studio Retail, Game, sofa.com and Flannels.

Earlier this year, Frasers bought The Mall shopping centre in Luton and is now landlord there to JD Sports Fashion Plc, a fierce rival of Sports Direct, among other retailers. It was the latest in a series of property deals by Frasers, which is now run by Ashley’s son-in-law Michael Murray after the billionaire founder officially stepped aside last year.

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