Frasers aims for Footasylum buy
Frasers Group has signalled its intention to table an offer for Footasylum, the up-for-sale retailer forced back onto the market by major rival JD Sports Fashion.
JD Sports was instructed in November to sell the 65-store footwear retailer by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after losing a long long-running battle with the government body to maintain ownership.
Within its ruling, the CMA said that 40% of Footasylum customers for footwear would go to JD Sports if they could not shop there, higher than for any other retailer.
According to reports, Frasers, which owns major rival Sports Direct as well as the House of Fraser department stores and luxury streetwear retailer Flannels, has notified the CMA of its plan to make an offer.
The regulator must approve any new purchaser to ensure it doesn’t breach competition guidelines and this would be a risk for Frasers given the large size of its Sports Direct business.
JD Sports, which agreed to buy Footasylum in March 2019 for £90 million, had been said to be still considering an appeal against the CMA ruling. However, last month, it was widely reported that JD was poised to give up its battle to keep hold of the business.
At the time of the CMA’s decision, JD said the regulator blocking its merger with Footasylum “defies logic”, also suggesting the CMA’s decision was influenced by its main competitor.
JD has so far declined to comment and Frasers has not responded to any requests for comment. The CMA said it would ensure that any purchaser runs the chain as a “fully independent competitor” but it “cannot speculate on potential purchasers of Footasylum from JD Sports”.
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