Frasers Group, headed by majority shareholder Mike Ashley, is reportedly making a move to secure a position on the board of luxury leathergoods company Mulberry. Currently holding a 37% stake in the UK-based retail group, Frasers’ bid could potentially challenge the control of Singapore-based Ong Beng Seng and his wife Christina, who own 56% of Mulberry. Recent discussions between Frasers representatives and Mulberry’s chairman and CEO have seen Ashley’s side express interest in having a presence in the boardroom. However, no official response has been received thus far.

Although Frasers has not provided any comments on the matter, a spokesperson for Mulberry emphasized that they maintain a positive and open dialogue with all shareholders, but do not publicly disclose specifics of these conversations. The investment made by Frasers in Mulberry in 2020 has since led to the acquisition of a significant stake in the company, giving them a justifiable reason to seek board representation. However, sources suggest that Frasers has also grown increasingly frustrated with what they perceive as a lack of transparency regarding Mulberry’s business operations in Asia. Since 2017, Mulberry has had a partnership with a company controlled by Ong in Singapore, aimed at driving growth in the Asian market. Frasers is now seeking greater clarity and openness regarding this arrangement.

Mulberry recently reported a decline in sales in its latest half-year results, transitioning from a small profit to an underlying pre-tax loss. Frasers’ investment in Mulberry aligns with its strategy of expanding its luxury operations, particularly through its Flannels luxury store chain, which includes a range of Mulberry handbags. The group has also made investments in other luxury brands such as Hugo Boss.

Useful links:

1. Mulberry Official Website
2. Frasers Group Official Website