Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, formerly known as Sports Direct, has offered emergency funding to Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, and indicated its interest in buying the business if it falls into administration.
In a brief statement, Frasers said it had offered Arcadia – which owns Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton – a loan of up to £50m.
“Should the company and the Arcadia Group’s efforts to agree an emergency funding package fail and the Arcadia Group enter into administration, the company would be interested in participating in any sale process,” Frasers said.
A collapse into administration would make Arcadia the biggest corporate casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic and could spell the end of Green’s long retail career. The businessman is under pressure from MPs and unions to use his private fortune to plug the huge shortfall in his retail empire’s pension scheme.
On Friday, it emerged that talks between Green and potential lenders for a £30m loan had failed. Arcadia had been seeking extra funding to help it plug the gap from lost sales during the closure of non-essential shops including clothing stores during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Green and Arcadia are understood to favour a so-called light-touch trading administration to protect the business from creditors while the administrators seek a buyer for all or parts of the company.
The future of Debenhams is also linked to Arcadia’s fate. Arcadia’s collapse could jeopardise Debenhams’ takeover by JD Sports, as the department store chain rents out space to dozens of Arcadia-owned outlets.
Ashley bought the House of Fraser department store chain out of administration in 2018, and is seen as a potential rescuer of both Arcadia and Debenhams.