Why Don't We Just Call the Entire Country "Sports Direct"

By Gary Cutlack on at

Mike Ashley, king of the polyester warehouses and hero of the troubled high street brand, has bought up a fresh batch of premises on the cheap, as he's come in at the last minute again to pull another chain out of financial distress. Bike supplier Evans Cycles is now part of Ashley's kingdom of troubled brands.

Ashley recently added troubled department store chain House of Fraser to his collection of troubled high street retailers, plus he also owns very nearly 30 per cent of equally troubled rival Debenhams and a fairly large slice of French Connection. So what more natural a fit than a troubled bike chain to add to all this? Maybe loads of negatives do indeed magically turn into a positive, like they always said in maths.

Evans Cycles had had troubles brewing for a while, and appeared to be on the brink of a £10m rescue by Halfords. That fell through, though, leaving the bike retailer facing two terrible fates -- insolvency, or everyone having to be nice to Mike Ashley. It chose the latter, although Ashley has already warned that around 50 per cent of Evans branches around the country may have to close, so half of the chain's 1,000+ staff will be slagging him off soon. [Cycling Weekly]