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Sports Direct pays £95m for Glasgow building housing Frasers department store

Sportswear group controlled by billionaire Mike Ashley agrees to purchase building from Glasgow City Council

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Mr Ashley, who also owns EPL club Newcastle United, said his ambition was to transform House of Fraser "into the Harrods of the high street"

London

BRITAIN'S Sports Direct, the sportswear group controlled by billionaire retail tycoon Mike Ashley, has agreed to buy the freehold of the Frasers department store in Glasgow for £95 million (S$172.8 million), it said on Friday.

Frasers trades as part of the House of Fraser business which Sports Direct purchased out of administration for £90 million in August.

The Glasgow building is the site of the first store opened by Hugh Fraser and James Arthur, the original founders of the House of Fraser business in 1849.

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Sports Direct has agreed to buy it from Glasgow City Council - the administering authority for the Strathclyde Pension Fund. "Sports Direct intends to continue to operate the property as Frasers and will invest in the property to further elevate and enhance this iconic department store," it said, adding that the deal has saved 800 in-store jobs.

The retailer, which will fund the deal from cash resources, said completion would take place in January 2019.

When Mr Ashley purchased House of Fraser in August he said he would keep as many of its 58 UK stores open as possible. So far, he has confirmed the future of 22.

Mr Ashley, who also owns English Premier League football club Newcastle United, said his ambition was to transform House of Fraser "into the Harrods of the high street" - a reference to the Qatari-owned luxury department store in London that was once owned by House of Fraser.

Sports Direct said on Friday that the purchase of the Frasers freehold would allow it to create the "Harrods of the North".

Shares in the retailer were up 1.7 per cent at 315.7 pence, valuing the business at around £1.69 billion. Reuters