Mike ashley

Why filling Father Christmas’s sack will cost more this year

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey looks increasingly uncomfortable as inflation notches upwards from ‘nothing to worry about’ towards the Bank’s latest prediction of a decade-high 4 per cent peak later this year and a possible ‘Oops, we’re back to the 1970s’ if spiralling wage and price pressures confound the forecasters. I wrote last week about the UK’s lack of lorry drivers, but that’s just one of many bottlenecks that need unblocking, as Bailey says, to bring ‘a wave of supply back on to the market’ and quell the blip. More significant globally, and much more difficult to resolve, is the logjam of shipping. The composite World Container Index published

In praise of Mike Ashley

If you want to be thanked by a grateful nation, don’t ever buy a failing football club, especially not in a city where the local team has a tribal following. That is the moral of the tale of Mike Ashley, who has just stepped down as chief executive of Sports Direct’s parent company.  Never mind creating, or saving, 20,000 jobs. Never mind fighting price-fixing by rivals determined to rip off impressionable young football fans desperate to own their club’s strip. Never mind being brave enough to invest in High Street stores which almost everyone else thinks are doomed. Ashley’s public reputation was always going to be dependent on the performances

Can Mike Ashley defy high street reality?

Separating heroes from villains in the great retail survival struggle is like spotting bent coppers in Line of Duty — whose sixth series, I’m pleased to report, has just finished filming. The plot just keeps twisting. Sir Philip Green, as I said last week, is seen as an irredeemable baddie; and most commentators (though not usually me) put sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley in a similar category, as an opportunist with a track record as a harsh employer. But now here he is, trying through his company Frasers Group to launch a last-ditch rescue for Debenhams, despite having lost £150 million last year in previous pursuit of the department store chain.

Bailing out businesses looks inevitable – but it’s not all bad

Should the government be prepared to take equity stakes in major companies that will struggle to survive the current crisis? That’s a question already on the table in relation to Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel, and likely to arise for British Airways, aero engine maker Rolls-Royce and others. We’re told Chancellor Rishi Sunak is working on a plan, called Project Birch, to bail out ‘viable companies which have exhausted all options’ and whose collapse would ‘disproportionately harm the economy’. That means large-scale loan support first, with conversion to equity as a last resort — and to some pundits it smacks of the 1970s interventionism that left swathes of under-performing