Agent Provocateur founder slams sale to Mike Ashley as ‘a disgrace’

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The founder of luxury lingerie retailer Agent Provocateur has slammed the sale of the retailer to a Sports Direct-backed firm, labelling it “a disgrace to British business”.

Agent Provocateur was sold by private equity firm 3i to Four Marketing on Thursday after going into administration.

Sports Direct, whose owner is billionaire Mike Ashley, holds a 25% stake in Four Marketing, which represents brands including Guess, 7 for All Mankind and Orla Kiely.

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Speaking to the Guardian yesterday, Agent Provocateur founder Joe Corré warned that the “preposterous” deal could lead to “a swath of litigation actions”.

“3i’s reputation is going to be left in tatters,” he said. “I don’t think they will ever recover from this. This is a phenomenal stitch-up.”

The Times quoted Agent Provocateur founder Joe Corré as saying that 3i had been “negligent and incompetent by artificially allowing a great British brand like Agent Provocateur to crash into administration.”

Corré, the son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, founded Agent Provocateur with his then-wife Serena Rees in 1994.

In 2007, 3i purchased 80% of the company for £60 million.

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