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What is Mike Ashley’s new acquisition?



Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has grown further after acquiring Jalal Kamani’s fast fashion retailer ISawItFirst.

The deal comes just a month after Ashley bought Missguided out of administration for £20 million, beating off competition from fast fashion giant Boohoo.

“ISawItFirst will benefit from the strength and scale of Frasers Group’s platform and from the integration with Frasers’ recently acquired business, Missguided,” Frasers said.

ISawItFirst was founded in 2017, created by Jalal Kamani, after he helped his brother Mahmud create and build up Boohoo.

Jalal Kamani was a founding director of Boohoo, and acted as its trading director before his departure. On LinkedIn, he highlights that he founded the fast fashion retailer’s ‘test and repeat’ business model.
ISawItFirst is definitely built in Boohoo’s mould. The womenswear retailer, which focuses on the under 30 market, produces huge lines of clothes for rock-bottom prices. It is currently promoting its 1000 at £10 deal, with 1,000 lines available for a tenner.

The retailer is highly promotional, with countdowns on limited offers, multiple discount codes, sales, clearances, and cheap delivery costs too.

It’s a tactic that has clearly worked as ISawItFirst now has five million customers.

A key moment in its growth came when it sponsored Love Island in 2019, which helped sales surge 62 per cent in its last financial year to October 2020.

In its most recently available set of accounts, the company reported sales of almost £75 million while its pre-tax losses totalled £7.7 million.

Newness is also key and the fast fashion retailer offering hundreds of new styles each week. The UK is the retailer’s largest sourcing territory, which ensure its clothing is as on-trend as possible.

There were a number of changes to management in the year with ex-Matalan deputy chief executive Greg Pateras coming in as chief executive in November last year with chief technology and logistics officer Andrew Stevenson-Thorpe, chief financial officer Mo Marzouk and operations director Shaz Irshad exiting the business.

Pateras was understood to have been drafted in to prepare it for a transaction, with the etailer mulling both an IPO or a sale. Given the volatile market for ecommerce stock at the moment, it is unsurprising that ISawItFirst opted for a sale.

There is still much growth opportunity for ISawItFirst that Frasers Group, which is now led by Ashley’s son-in-law Michael Murray, can harness.

ISawItFirst launched its wholesale business in 2020 which the company said has shown strong growth.

Internationalisation is also an opportunity as ISawItFirst has a burgeoning presence in the US, Australia and Europe. With overseas accounting for almost half of Boohoo’s sales, this part of the business could be much expanded at ISawItFirst.

The etailer has also started expanding its product range beyond its core womenswear with menswear and homewares launched last year alongside a soft launch of kidswear.

There are many opportunities for growth that Frasers Group can help ISawItFirst grab.

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