Shares in Debenhams soar 9% after an outgoing Sports Direct director reveals merging the department stores has been discussed.
Sports Direct bought House of Fraser for £90m
The possibility of merging Debenhams and House of Fraser has been discussed, a director of Sports Direct has said.
Sports Direct, owned by billionaire Mike Ashley, bought House of Fraser out of administration for £90m. The sports gear retailer also owns 29.7% of struggling rival Debenhams.
The outgoing Sports Direct senior non-executive director Simon Bentley, in response to reporters’ questions about a possible combination of the department store chains, said: “It’s been discussed.”
However, Mr Bentley said Sports Direct was busy with its latest acquisition.
“If any of you had the job of handling House of Fraser right now, I think you might have your hands full, and incidentally we’ve also got Sports Direct,” he said.
“If there’s opportunities in the future then we’ll be in a position to take advantage of them.”
Mr Bentley later clarified his remarks.
“I was asked a general question about whether or not we discuss our strategic investments, and in particular Debenhams, to which I replied in the positive,” he said.
“I made no mention of any merger between House of Fraser and Debenhams, nor did I intend my answer to infer that.”
Before Sports Direct’s annual shareholder meeting in central London, the company said Mr Bentley, who has served on the board since 2007, would not seek re-election.
The company also said its under-fire chairman Keith Hellawell was stepping down.
Shares in Debenhams rose more than 9% by Wednesday’s close.