- Sports Direct said it would buy troubled department store chain House of Fraser for £90m from its administrators, while keeping 'as many stores open as possible'.

The move came despite Sports Direct recently losing money on an investment in struggling department store chain Debenhams, and sparked speculation the two chains could be merged.

For the year ended 28 January -- the last date to which statutory accounts were available for the parent company -- the House of Fraser group had gross assets of £946.3m and made £14.7m net profit, Sports Direct said.

In a subsequent announcement, Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley said the House of Fraser deal was a 'massive step forward and further enhances our strategy of elevation across the group'.

'This will benefit both House of Fraser and Flannels in the luxury sector,' Ashley said.

'We will do our best to keep as many stores open as possible.'

'Our deal was conservative, consistent and simple. My ambition is to transform House of Fraser into the Harrods of the High Street.'

Sports Direct is also refurbishing its namesake stores, which Ashley has sought to transform into 'the Selfridges of Sport'.

At 1:56pm: [LON:SPD] Sports Direct International PLC share price was -3.1p at 403.6p

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