High Street

Mike Ashley and Peter Cowgill in race to acquire Office

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley and JD Sports owner Peter Cowgill have both been revealed as bidders for footwear retailer Office.

According to Sky News, it comes as the chain seeks funding to support it through the current coronavirus pandemic. Two other unnamed parties who have also expressed an interest in the chain.

However, Sky News added that a source within Truworths International, which owns Office, said that the company is also considering the option of acquiring parts of the retailer through a pre-pack deal if it were to fall into administration.

It comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced its decision to block JD Sports’ purchase of Footasylum last week, after finding it would “leave shoppers worse off”.

Following an in-depth investigation, the regulator concluded that this transaction would lead to a “substantial lessening” of competition, which would in turn leave shoppers with fewer discounts or a lower quality customer service.

The authority said that whilst retailers were facing “uncertain and challenging” trading conditions amid the pandemic, it has not yet found evidence that the impact of the crisis would remove its competition concerns.

Kip Meek, chair of the CMA inquiry group, said: “Our investigation analysed a large body of evidence that shows JD Sports and Footasylum are close competitors. This deal would mean the removal of a direct competitor from the market, leaving customers worse off.”

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