Sports Direct snap up Jack Wills despite company crisis

Josh Hall's picture

Sports Direct, the discount retailer owned by Mike Ashley, has bought student fashion brand Jack Wills.

Ashley's company paid £12.8 million for the well-known brand, which was sold in a prepack administration deal in which a buyer is found before a distressed company reaches the stage of appointing administrators.

All of the brand's stores, stock, and staff have been sold, and priority creditors are likely to get paid - but others, such as landlords, may not receive a penny.

The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions made by Ashley, an increasingly controversial figure in the UK business scene.

In October 2015 a Guardian investigation found extraordinary working conditions at Sports Direct's Shirebrook warehouse, with staff being forced to undergo unpaid searches at the end of every shift, being harangued by tannoy, and being effectively paid below the minimum wage.

At the end of last month, meanwhile, the company appeared to be in crisis as it revealed not only problems with its high-profile purchase of House of Fraser, but also an unpaid £605 million tax bill from the Belgian government.

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