Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has agreed to buy the House of Fraser department store chain for £90m.
Earlier on Friday, House of Fraser went into administration after talks between the retailer and its creditors failed to reach an agreement.
Its 59 shops were expected to open on Friday, including the 31 that had already been marked for closure.
House of Fraser – which began trading 169 years ago – employs 16,000, 5,900 directly and 10,100 in the concessions.
Sports Direct said in a statement: “The group has acquired all of the UK stores of House of Fraser, the House of Fraser brand and all of the stock in the business.”
Mike Ashley already held an 11% stake in the department store chain.
House of Fraser’s administrators, from accountants EY, said the retailer had been in “a race against time to secure sufficient funding to secure its future” ever since the Chinese firm C.banner pulled out of a rescue deal. earlier this month.
Alan Hudson, one of the four administrators from EY, said the Sports Direct deal “preserves as many of the jobs of House of Fraser’s employees as possible”.
“It was a challenging transaction to achieve in such a short period of time which will ensure continuity of the business and preserve the goodwill. We hope that this will give the business the stable financial platform that it requires to flourish in the current retail environment.”
Mr Ashley’s plans for the stores chain are not clear, but could include rebranding some stores as Sports Direct.
He has said previously that he wants to turn his sporting goods fashion chain, which he founded in 1982, into “the Selfridges of sport”.
As well as 750 Sports Direct stores, Mr Ashley has investments in Debenhams and French Connection, and he also owns the clothing chain Flannels.
Other contenders to take over House of Fraser had included Mike Ashley’s retail rival Philip Day, who owns the Edinburgh Woollen Mill chain, Jaeger and Austin Reed.
The administrators at EY confirmed that “the directors, representatives of the senior creditors and their respective advisors have been speaking with a number of parties in order to secure a solution” since C.banner walked away.
C.banner had been poised to invest in House of Fraser after it agreed a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with its creditors, which would have closed 31 stores and put 6,000 jobs at risk. But it could not raise the financing, leaving House of Fraser seeking new investment.
The administrators said they were appointed after it was not possible to achieve “a solvent solution” and House of Fraser filed for insolvency protection on Friday morning.
House of Fraser had said on Thursday that it wanted to secure financing by 20 August.
This is the date when payments were due to concessions inside the House of Fraser stores.
Nigel Lugg, group executive chairman of Prominent Europe, which supplies Chester Barrie menswear to House of Fraser, said it was “good news” that the business had been saved.
But, he said, suppliers will have hoped the business would avoid administration so they could be paid in full.
“I can’t see the suppliers getting a lot of money out of the system,” Mr Lugg told the BBC, adding suppliers often received 2p to 3p in the pound in cases of administration.
His business would be fine but, he said, “it could impact into other UK suppliers”.
“There is a lot of money trapped in the system,” Mr Lugg said.
House of Fraser has two main types of relationships with its suppliers: wholesalers who are paid in advance for their stock or concessions which are on a payment schedule when items are sold.