Britain's Sports Direct changing name to Frasers Group in bid to move upmarket

Sportswear retailer making change following its purchase of department store House of Fraser's assets from administrators last year

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United, Mike Ashley, arrives at the High Court on July 10, 2017 in London, England. Mr Ashley is defending himself against a lawsuit filed by former business associate Jeff Blue. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
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Britain's Sports Direct International, the sporting goods retailer founded and controlled by Mike Ashley, is to rebrand as Frasers Group, it said on Monday.

Sports Direct said the rebranding, which is subject to shareholder approval at a December 16 meeting, is being undertaken "to reflect the changing profile and consumer proposition of the group".

The group bought the House of Fraser department store chain out of administration for £90 million (Dh425.8m) in August last year — a decision Ashley said in July may have been a mistake.

Sports Direct was founded by Ashley as a single store in Maidenhead, southern England, in 1982. It now employs 29,400 in 20 countries, including the UAE.

The choice of the new brand reflects what Sports Direct calls its "elevation strategy", encompassing the group as a whole.

It said the proposed rebrand follows its decision to bring Frasers "luxury lifestyle stores", to the high street within its next financial year — 2020-21.

"The decision to rebrand the group as Frasers reflects the fact that this new, elevated concept will house the core areas of focus for the wider business — iconic brands, beauty, sports and luxury fashion," it said.

In July, Sports Direct reported a 6 per cent fall in core earnings for the 2018-19 year and warned it could face a 674 million euro bill from Belgium's tax authority.

Shares in the firm, 63.3 per cent of which are owned by Ashley, closed up 1.1 per cent, taking gains for 2019 to 43 per cent and valuing the group at about £1.8 billion.