Sports Direct acquires Agent Provocateur for £31m

Tammy Harvey
March 3, 2017

Agent Provocateur was co-founded in 1994 by Joe Corré, the son of Dame Vivienne Westwood, and his now former wife Serena Rees. 3i's reputation is going to be left in tatters.

Haitong analyst Tony Shiret said Sports Direct could see Agent Provocateur as a platform for the development of womenswear across the company and a main own brand.

Lingerie firm Agent Provocateur has been bought by Mike Ashley's Sports Direct for £31m after it fell into administration on Thursday.

Four Holdings, an investor group in which Ashley's Sports Direct holds a stake, is buying Agent Provocateur from private-equity firm 3i Group Plc, which has struggled to turn around the maker of bras and camisoles since buying a majority stake in it a decade ago in a deal that valued the company at 60 million pounds ($74 million).

Agent Provocateur has 10 stores in the United Kingdom and employs around 600 people. "I don't think they will ever recover". Alix is managing the pre-arranged process.

Only last month Mr Ashley, through Sports Direct, snapped up an 11 percent stake in troubled retailer French Connection.

The Sports brand is recovering from a string of management and governance failures and was condemned by MPs a year ago for its treatment of workers, where working conditions were compared to Victorian workhouses by an undercover investigation by The Guardian.

"3i had no role in the selection of the buyer or the process to transact the sale".

"3i does not expect to make any recovery from the sale process".

The acquisition of the luxury lingerie brand is the latest attempt by Ashley to move his business empire upmarket. Agent Provocateur Chairman Chris Woodhouse stepped down in December.

The "scale of the issues" scuppered efforts to secure new investment so the business could continue as a going concern, 3i said.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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