Ocado Boss Warns Mike Ashley Off Buying High Street Remnants

By Gary Cutlack on at

Lord Stuart Rose, who's currently the chairman of in-demand online retailer Ocado and was once the big boss of behemoth M&S, has staged a mini intervention in the case of Mike Ashley. Rose has given the big "calm down" speech and told the Sports Direct entrepreneur to cool it a bit with his buying-up of faltering high street brands.

The Press Association sought out Rose to get him to do a state-of-the-street address, and his key opinion was that there's still the stench of death coming from the doorways of the remaining shops out there. In terms of Sports Direct's failed effort to buy Debenhams, Rose said Debs has always been "behind the curve" and he's minded that Ashley had a lucky escape in being barred from buying the chain -- even though he lost around £150m of shares in the aftermath of its administration.

Rose is on a massive downer on the high street in general, as you might expect of someone who's helping guide online-only Ocado now, and he added: "What we've still got in most sectors in the UK is too much capacity in terms of bricks and mortar. Unless you've got a really strong brand or unique selling point, you’re going to find you're squeezed. That's why the Debenhams of this world are struggling, that's why BHS disappeared."

And that's why M&S is buying half of Ocado. [Retail Gazette]