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  • Writer's pictureMark Watson-Mitchell

THG – Is It Being Bailed Out By Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group Taking Out Coggles & Co?

Within the retail fashion sector, the buzz over the weekend was that Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group (LON:FRAS) was negotiating to relieve Matt Moulding’s THG (LON:THG) ‘empire’ of its Coggles retail operation.

Set up way back in 1974, Coggles today is a premium international fashion retailer home to over 200 men's and women's designer collections from established fashion houses, emerging designers and rare international labels, including Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Ganni, Gucci, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Max Mara, Polo Ralph Lauren, Rains, Paul Smith, Thom Brown and Alexander Wang. 

It also sells a range of homeware and beauty branded products.

Husband’s Affair Was Just The Start

The company was started by Victoria Bage, who ran a stall in York market which proved such a big hit that she opened a store, one of the north's first boutiques, two years later.

Bage, it is said, caught her husband having an affair with his secretary.

She promptly divorced him and named the store, situated in York, after the secretary 'Sarah Coggles' to remind him of the mistake he had made. 

Mark Bage, Victoria’s son, modernised the shop and launched an online store in 2006.

Enter Matt Moulding

However, the whole business was put into administration in 2013 – its physical stores were liquidated while The Hut Group acquired the Coggles online operation.

In early December 2017, the company opened a physical 4,000sq ft store in Alderley Edge, in Cheshire, marking its first offline offering since it had been forced to close the Coggles flagship in York, after the group fell into administration.

The new shop, a former bank, features preserved wood and marble decoration and two former vaults that have been converted into shoe and accessories showrooms.

It is situated in one of the most prestigious destinations in the north-west.

The loss-making THG has been selling off non-core assets in order for its management to focus upon its nutrition, beauty and digital, marketing and fulfilment businesses.

Frasers bought ProBikeKit from THG in May last year.

So, the market now questions whether THG making such a disposal as Coggles to Frasers a friendly buyer when funds are required – is it effectively a bailing out in times of need?

Today’s AGM

THG will be holding its AGM in Altrincham later today.

In the group’s AGM Trading Statement, the company has announced that it has agreed to sell its portfolio of luxury goods websites, including to the Frasers Group.

Ingenuity will continue to support the brand portfolio across technology, digital marketing and fulfilment services post disposal.

From a standing start almost 11 years ago, THG's luxury division grew to some £43m in sales and it reported a broadly break-even for 2023, despite a broader challenging luxury market.

Current Market Position

There are ‘short positions’ against 2% of the THG equity, with Marshall Wace, Wellington Management International and Qube Research & Technologies being the biggest players.

The shares, which were trading at 110.25p this time last year, are now fairly close to their 56.30p one-year low, are currently at 61.85p, valuing the whole group at £823m.


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