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River Island family takes control of Mint Velvet in £100m deal

Lewis family says investment reflects high confidence in the business, brand and people.


The family behind the River Island clothing chain has taken control of Mint Velvet, the fashion label founded by three former Principles executives, in a deal understood to value the company in excess of £100m.

The co-founders Peter Davies, Liz Houghton and Lisa Agar-Rea will share a multimillion-pound payout from the deal with the Lewis Trust Group (LTG).

It is a second fashion fortune for Davies, who previously rescued and sold Principles and Warehouse, making nearly £40m in three years.

LTG, which also owns stakes in the Everyman cinema chain and the San Francisco-based fast fashion label Dolls Kill, first bought a stake in Mint Velvet in 2015. It is understood to have exercised an option to take control of the company last week.

Mint Velvet, which specialises in “relaxed glamour” for the over 30s, was started from Houghton’s kitchen table in 2009 and launched with concessions in House of Fraser.

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Mike Ashley in talks over rescue bid for struggling HMV

Mike Ashley is considering a rescue bid for HMV, the music and film retailer that collapsed into administration last month.

The Sports Direct boss is understood to have held talks with suppliers to the ailing business about a rescue deal, which could see him link the HMV brand to other parts of his high street empire including House of Fraser, Sports Direct or potentially Game Digital, in which Sports Direct owns a 25% stake.

A successful deal for HMV’s 125 stores would see Ashley grab another major slice of the high street following Sports Direct’s acquisition of the bike specialist Evans Cycles in October and department store chain House of Fraser in August, both of which were bought out of administration.

While Ashley takes a look at many potential retail deals, and Sports Direct holds stakes in multiple high street chains including the struggling French Connection and Debenhams, ‎sources told Sky News – which first reported Ashley’s interest in HMV – that he was serious about buying the music retailer.

Ashley has also made clear his interest in Debenhams, which is seeking to refinance its debts by the end of this month after a torrid 2018. Ashley has offered to bail the department store chain out with a £40m loan on terms that would give him the whip hand over the company, in which Sports Direct already owns a near 30% stake.


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House Of Fraser Cancels All Online Orders!

Beleaguered British department store House of Fraser is cancelling all online orders and will be refunding thousands of customers potentially millions of pounds after a dispute with its warehouse operator held up deliveries.

The decision comes “after the chain’s website was taken offline amid complaints from customers about delayed deliveries since the company was bought by Sports Direct for £90m last week”, says Sky News.

XPO logistics, which operates a House of Fraser distribution centre in Wellingborough, “has told employees to stop accepting orders from the department store”, reports The Times.


House of Fraser has told over 1,000 suppliers it will not pay money owed before 10 August, when Sports Direct bought the chain out of administration.

But XPO has halted work as it tries to convince Sports Direct to honour existing contract terms.

“We have taken the decision to cancel and refund all orders that have not already been sent to customers,” the department store said on Facebook.

“We didn’t take this decision lightly, but since we cannot give our customers clear assurances of when their orders will be delivered, we believe cancellation is the best option.”

A source close to Sports Direct told The Guardian it had been forced to cancel orders as XPO was being “totally unreasonable in terms of their demands” and was “refusing to engage in any process” which would “move the situation forward”.

“XPO is trying to hold us to ransom,” the source said.

Sports Direct “has no legal obligation to pay suppliers money owed before its buyout as their debts were part of the administration”, adds the paper, but new owners “often agree to settle at least some of the debts in the interest of good relations”.

The announcement that online orders have been cancelled “has caused anger among customers”, says the BBC.

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