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Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group adds Psyche to its retail empire

Tom Bottomley
04 January 2021

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group has bought Teesside-based independent designer clothing retailer Psyche for an undisclosed sum, which will secure the future of 58 staff who work in the Middlesbrough shop and on its website, according to BBC News.

Psyche boss Steve Cochrane, who has owned the business for 38 years, will continue to run the retailer as its CEO.

Cochrane reportedly declined a previous takeover offer from Ashley’s business in 2017, but has now reconsidered with the high street “under the cosh” due to the coronavirus pandemic and forced closures of non-essential stores, the superfast growth of online shopping and Brexit uncertainty.

Commenting to Teesside Live, Cochrane said: “After 38 years as an independent fashion retailer we have never seen such uncertainty surrounding the pandemic with local lockdowns. It is great to have the security and backing of one of the strongest UK retailers to continue employing our talented staff and serve our loyal customers.

“Merging with Frasers Group will allow us to grow and expand. It will give us economies of scale and efficiencies by being part of a large plc.”

The value of the deal, which includes the 175-187 Linthorpe Road building (which was formerly Uptons) has not been disclosed, but the company’s registered address has already changed from Middlesbrough to Frasers' headquarters in Shirebrook, in the Midlands.

Psyche's 40,000 sq ft luxury fashion boutique in Middlesbrough is home to over 200 high-end brands for men, women and children, but it is currently closed due to local Tier 4 restrictions.

Psyche moved to the building from its previous premises, also on Linthorpe Road, as part of major expansion back in 2003.

Cochrane also said that while he thought there would still be a clothes shop on Linthorpe Road in a couple of years, he was unsure whether it will still be called Psyche.

Frasers Group will carry out an appraisal over the next six to 12 months to decide where Psyche fits into its retail offer. Cochrane says Psyche “sits between Flannels and House of Fraser” with the brands it sells.

According to Teesside Live, Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Flannels and other major retail brands, also acquired Teesside fashion emporium and restaurant The House of Yarm in June 2020.

In the BBC report, Cochrane says that in 2017 Psyche was actually “in the ascendant” and was considering opening another store in Durham, but with the headwinds changing dramatically the new deal will at least secure the future of all of its staff.

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