Frasers Group Plc has bought an 18.9% stake in online electronics retailer AO World Plc, as Mike Ashley’s retail empire keeps up its acquisitive streak.
Frasers has spent £75 million ($94 million) on the stake as part of a strategic partnership with AO World after two years of talks, according to a June 12 statement. The deal will help Frasers expand its business delivering homeware ranges and bulk equipment.
AO World benefited during the early part of the pandemic as shoppers bought dishwashers and washing machines online, but they’ve been cutting back on spending amid the cost-of-living crisis. Last year, the retailer had to raise equity to strengthen its balance sheet.
AO is the latest in a long line of struggling retailers that have drawn interest from Frasers. The business majority Ashley owns raised its stake in struggling online hub Asos Plc twice in recent days. It took its holding to almost 10%.
ASOS Plc Holdings ranks No. 19 in the 2023 Europe Database. Digital Commerce 360’s database ranks the largest European online retailers by their web sales.
Ashley founded Sports Direct four decades ago and built it into Frasers. The company has purchased stakes in Hugo Boss AG and luxury handbag maker Mulberry as well as buying Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes, video game retailer Game Digital, apparel brand Jack Wills and online businesses Missguided and Amara Living.
The acquisitive approach is continuing with Ashley’s son-in-law Michael Murray as chief executive officer.
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