High Street tycoon Mike Ashley pounced on the House of Fraser department store chain today after collapsing in administration.
The owner of Sports Direct made an acquisition of £ 90 million following the latest talks with insolvency specialists at the accounting firm Ernst & Young.
In a statement to the Exchange, Sports Direct International said it "announces the acquisition of the House of Fraser business and assets by House of Fraser administrators … for a cash consideration of £ 90 million."
The billionaire, who also owns Newcastle United, said Sports Direct "will do everything possible to keep as many stores open as possible."
He said: "My ambition is to transform House of Fraser into Harrods of the high street."
The announcement came during a dramatic morning that began with House of Fraser naming E & Y as administrators to finalize 169 years of solvent operations.
It was the biggest failure of a retailer in Britain since Woolworths sank into management nearly a decade ago in the wake of the financial crisis.
It is also the fourth administration of an important retail name this year after the failures of Maplin, Poundworld and Toys R Us.
Nevertheless. Today's latest Sports Direct movement raises hopes that many of the 17,500 jobs at risk for management can be saved.
It follows months of tortuous negotiations by the Casa de Fraser administration with the owners and the Chinese firm C Banner, which withdrew from a £ 150 million rescue plan less than fifteen days ago.
That left the company needing £ 40 million to pay the rent bills before August 20 to avoid bankruptcy.
Despite the administration's chief executive, Alex Williamson had said he was still "hoping" that a future for the business, which has big stores in Oxford Street, King William Street in City, Victoria and Westfield London in Shepherds Bush, It could still be insured.
Mike Ashley has had an 11 percent share in the departmental store group since 2014. Sports Direct has racked up stakes in other high street British chains, including Debenhams, rival of HoF and French Connection.
Sports Direct wrote to HoF management last month saying it was "willing to structure a transaction on similar terms (subject to due diligence to confirm the level of investment / cash injection required) to one proposed by Hamleys' Chinese owner .
House of Fraser announced a rescue plan in June that will result in 31 of its stores closing in 2019, including the flagship of Oxford Street and the King William Street branch.
The main street has been affected by the increase in rents and business rates and the intense competition from online operators such as Amazon.
Helen Dickinson, executive director of the British Retail Consortium, said: "This is a critical period for the retail industry, caused by a perfect storm of pressures that includes rising costs and new technologies that change the way people buy."