Ashley scores in the weird world of business tiffs

Gabriella Griffith
MIKE Ashley is not happy with Adidas, after the German sports company refused from next season to let Ashley’s retail giant Sports Direct sell its replica Chelsea kits – incidentally one of Sports Direct’s bestsellers. Ashley is understandably miffed, and it has even been suggested the billionaire plans to build a hostile stake in Adidas to put pressure on it to play ball. We think that’s unlikely, but watch this space.

Whatever the outcome, corporate tussles are hardly unusual. Here are a few The Capitalist has enjoyed of late:

1. Ketchup-gate
McDonald’s threw its toys out of the pram when an ex-Burger King chief took over as CEO of Heinz in October. The fast-food giant said it would stop serving Heinz Ketchup in its stores after 40 years of using the brand, citing “recent management changes”.

2. No you Icahn’t
Activist investor Icahn and the Dell founder locked horns for six months over Michael Dell’s $24.8bn proposed buy-out of his ailing computer company. For a while we were all privy to some strongly worded letters and tweets before Icahn finally said “I can’t” and gave up his fight to stop the deal.

3. Ham-ming it up
Sainsbury’s got shirty with Tesco in October over its price comparison campaign, arguing the adverts were unfair because of the difference in quality. When the ruling favoured Tesco, a smarting Sainsbury requested a judicial review, with the dispute currently headed for the High Court. Every little helps.