Sports Direct buys stake in high-end fashion firms

SPORTS Direct has bought an 80 per cent share in the USC and Cruise chains, to give it a foothold in the luxury clothing market.

The designer fashion chains are currently controlled by Scottish tycoon Sir Tom Hunter through his West Coast Capital private equity firm.

Sports Direct paid £7m under the deal, which was finalised yesterday. West Coast, which returned to profit earlier this year, will also receive a £20m injection to develop the two businesses ahead of two new USC store openings later this year.

The move comes less than three years after USC collapsed into administration, and was later rescued in a controversial move that saw 43 of the stores bought back in a pre-pack deal by West Coast Capital.

USC now has 38 stores in the UK and sells labels such as Diesel, Calvin Klein and Ted Baker.

Hunter, a Scottish millionaire and philanthropist, will retain a 20 per cent stake in both businesses, remain as chairman of both and provide advice to the newly established premium and lifestyle division of Sports Direct. He said: “This deal will transform the prospects for both USC and Cruise.”