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As of 19:09 14 Dec 2018
Market cap. Pound sterling
65.69 million
As of 19:09 14 Dec 2018

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House of Fraser and Debenhams to buy together?

Could House of Fraser and Debenhams, in which Mike Ashley holds a 29% stake, start buying together to get better deals from suppliers?

Mr Ashley says that "they should have done years ago" and that he told them they should have done so. However, he talks about "separate management" and "separate egos".

He says that if House of Fraser and Debenhams did buy together it would "save on logistics".

Lord of all he surveys

Mike Ashley's businesses

As we've already flagged, Mike Ashley, the billionaire founder and chief executive of Sports Direct, will be appearing in front of the cross-party Housing, Communities and Local Government committee at 3.30pm to talk about the future of the High Street.

He owns an enormous share of the High Street - including House of Fraser, luxury lingerie chain Agent Provocateur, Evan Cycles, as well as a 29% stake in Debenhams.

Business Live will be covering his appearance so stay with us.

'Unpredictable' Ashley before MPs later

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Mike Ashley, founder Sports Direct

This afternoon Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley appears before a panel of MPs to answer their questions about the future of the High Street.

With a big stake in Debenhams and also now owning House of Fraser, Mr Ashley sees himself as the saviour of the High Street.

"The one thing you can say about Mike Ashley is that he's consistently unpredictable," says retail analyst Richard Hyman.

"He does lots of surprising things. He has taken share stakes in a number of different businesses for reasons that haven't been at all apparent.

"It's hard to know what plan or strategy he really has," Mr Hyman said.

"The longevity of House of Fraser remains to be seen," he adds.

The session starts at 15:30.

Debenhams boss buys shares in company

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Debenhams store
Getty Images

Debenhams's troubles are well documented but the department store chain's chief executive, Sergio Bucher, is confident about its future.

He tells the Today programme: "Retail overall is a tough place to be right now... I think that we have a very strong plan, we are transforming our product range as well. We are definitely here to stay. I bought shares two weeks ago, so I wouldn't have done that if I didn't have trust."

He adds that "there are a number of stores probably we will need to close in the future."

"We see a future for Debenhams with about 100 stores with a bigger online business, and we have started conversations with our landlords [about rent reductions]."

Black Friday: All about the footfall

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Black Friday sale
Getty Images

US import Black Friday has become an important event in the retail calendar.

But why do retailers do it? Surely Black Friday discounts just eat into profits?

Sergio Boucher, chief executive of Debenhams says it's the "starting gun of the Christmas campaign".

"Yes, customers are going to be coming to stores, and they'll buy some discounted product, but they'll also buy some full price product, they'll be having a coffee, eating a piece of cake, drink gin and tonic - I think it's a great shopping trip," he says.

Debenhams will sell about four times as much today as a normal Friday, Mr Boucher adds.

"It is one of our biggest days of the year," he says.

Debenhams' share price slides

Getty Images

Stepping away from Brexit for a moment.

Debenhams' share price is taking another hammering today following a report from fashion trade magazine Drapers that some firms have stopped working with the department store chain because of changes to credit insurance coverage for suppliers.

Debenham's share price is down 5.92% to 4.96p, valuing the group at £68.2m.

The retailer said last month that it would close 50 stores - putting 4,000 jobs at risk - after it reported a record annual loss.

'Drastic action' retailing threat

Debenhams store
Getty Images

Back to the news earlier in the day about the problems facing Debenhams.

Begbies Traynor has found that the number of retailers in distress in the past year has increased from 29,727 companies to 30,123.

"If this number continues to creep up, we could be seeing more companies taking drastic action to save their brands," said Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor.

"A small amount of shops to shut was expected, but evidently, the new owners have stamped their authority on the troubled retailer already and made more drastic cuts than expected.

"The losses of £500m are large, and in response it has decided it needs to strip back to the bare bones of the organisation if it is to grow life once again. Only time will tell whether this approach will work, but it appears to be that this is one of the few options it has to survive."