Premier League club owner Mike Ashley is purchasing three independent Manchester retailers as part of a clothing chain deal to rival competitors.
The Newcastle United chief has bought 51% of Cheshire-born business Flannels from Neil Prosser – who opened the first store in Knutsford in 1976.
Ashley’s Sports Direct business will acquire six new stores across the country in Leeds, Nottingham, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester – as well as a factory outlet in Salford Quays and Life in Manchester.
Flannels is one of the UK’s largest independent retailers and will bolster Ashley’s books as he battles Bury-based retailers JD Sports to build up a premium clothing division.
Sports Direct now have stakes in USC, Cruise and Van Mildert, while competitors JD Sports own Bank, Scotts and Cecil Gee.
Mr Prosser will retain a 49% stake in Flannels and will continue as managing director.