Mike Ashley's Fraser Group buys out assets of DW Sports from his long-term rival
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has bought some of the assets of DW Sports, saving “a number of jobs”.
The deal will see Frasers pay £37 million to the administrators of DW, rising to £43.9 million if some conditions are met.
The group already owns Lillywhites, Evans Cycles and House of Fraser and the agreement is said to include 46 leisure clubs and 31 shops run by DW Sports Fitness and some stock.
It does not include the DW business name or intellectual property, Frasers said.
The firm, launched in 2009 when Dave Whelan bought 50 JJB Sports fitness clubs and adjoining shops out of administration, owns 75 stores and 73 gyms, which all had to close due to coronavirus restrictions.
DW also owns the Fitness First gym chain – including one in Timber Beach Road in Sunderland – which is unaffected by the administration.
Mr Whelan and Mr Ashley have been involved in a 20-year feud, with the former Wigan Athletic football club owner telling southerner Mr Ashley: "There is a club in the north, son, and you're not part of it."
The Newcastle United owner later reported JJB Sports to the Office of Fair Trading, alleging it was involved in price-fixing football shirts, with JJB and others issued with multi-million-pound fines.
Frasers has also been struggling due to the pandemic, confirming last week more House of Fraser stores could close, with 10 of the 59 it bought out of administration in 2018 already shut.