According to a recent report from GlobalData, published by Retail Insight, entities controlled by Mike Ashley, the billionaire chief executive of Sports Direct International, now account for 3.2 percent of all non-food retail spending in the U.K. Since founding Sports Direct in 1982, Ashley has purchased one distressed company after another, amassing a wide range of holdings in retail, professional sports, real estate and other areas. Among these properties are the British apparel retailer Flannels, the cycling retailer Evans Cycles, the European golf retailer American Golf and the British department store House of Fraser. Ashley is rumored to be considering a takeover of HMV, the entertainment retailer. The Fashion Network news service points out that, although Ashley's broad portfolio allows for economies of scale and synergies, low consumer confidence and changing consumer behavior have reduced sales for many British retailers. In fact, according to a survey conducted last September, more than a third of House of Fraser's customers had been putting off shopping at the department store.

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