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Mike Ashley profile

Can self-made businessman Mike Ashley save the high street? David Craik explores why other retailers aren’t following his turnaround vision for UK retail

The recent woes of Debenhams encapsulate two of the biggest themes in retail today: the decline of the traditional high street, and the acquisition strategy of one of the UK's biggest and most controversial retailers - Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.

Retail analysts single out his ability to acquire cut-price assets that he then uses to his trading advantage as a crucial string to his business bow. And supporters would say Ashley is at least showing ambition on a high street clouded in gloomy forecasts.

If there were more businesses willing to do the same, would the high street have a better chance of survival? What exactly are so many other retailers - such as Debenhams, which collapsed into administration in early April under a £600m debt pile and slumping profits - doing wrong?

This is an extract from the Business & Management Magazine, Issue 275, June 2019.

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