Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley has made a bid for HMV that could see him add the struggling music retailer to his growing collection of troubled high-street businesses.
Mr Ashley was one of “several” parties that have put offers in for HMV, a person with direct knowledge of the situation said on Monday. KPMG, which was appointed HMV’s administrator after it collapsed last month, declined to comment, while Sports Direct could not be reached for comment.
In the past six months the billionaire Newcastle United owner has used Sports Direct — in which he owns 60 per cent — to buy both the House of Fraser department store chain and Evans Cycles out of administration. Sports Direct also owns big stakes in fashion chain French Connection and Debenhams, where he recently ousted the department store’s chairman and chief executive from its board.
It is unclear at this stage whether Mr Ashley was preparing to buy HMV through Sports Direct or another corporate vehicle. According to Sky News, the tycoon has been in discussions with music and entertainment industry suppliers to HMV in the past fortnight about the potential acquisition.
HMV filed for administration for the second time in six years in December, putting more than 2,000 jobs at risk. The group, which has 125 stores, has been hit by sweeping changes to people’s listening and viewing habits that have led to sharp declines in sales of DVDs and CDs.
After it first entered insolvency proceedings in January 2013, HMV was snapped up by UK retail restructuring group Hilco Capital, which gained control of the music chain by buying up its bank debt.
Upon HMV entering administration for the second time, Hilco and HMV executive chairman Paul McGowan said the retailer had not been able to withstand the “tsunami of challenges facing UK retailers over the past 12 months on top of such a dramatic change in consumer behaviour in the entertainment market”.