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Mike Ashley puts boot into 'dominance' of Adidas and Nike

Sky News logo Sky News 14/10/2019 James Sillars, business reporter

Sports Direct has urged UK and EU regulators to review the sportswear market, claiming "must have" brands Adidas and Nike hold too much power.

Sports Direct alleges many retailers and consumers are getting a raw deal from 'must have' brands © Getty Sports Direct alleges many retailers and consumers are getting a raw deal from 'must have' brands

The retailer, majority-owned and run by Mike Ashley, issued the plea as it battles to secure better access to top brands amid bitter rival JD Sports' plans for a £90m takeover of Footasylum.

The company released its statement in response to a story by the Sunday Times, which reported that Nike had informed several independent retailers they would not be able to stock Nike goods in two years' time.

a pair of black shoes: Nike and Adidas are the top two sportswear brands in the world, according to Forbes © Getty Nike and Adidas are the top two sportswear brands in the world, according to Forbes

The newspaper, citing a source, said it was part of a plan by the US brand to sell more products via its own website.

Sports Direct said it had been the victim of Adidas withdrawing supplies of key products with no justification.

Its statement read: "These 'must have' brands hold an extremely strong bargaining position vis-a-vis the retailers within their supply networks and use their market power to implement market-wide practices aimed at controlling the supply and, ultimately, the pricing of their products."

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The company has claimed the JD Sports takeover of Footasylum could further reduce its own access to the top brands.

It launched its intervention as it battles tough conditions on the high street and "terminal" problems at its House of Fraser operation.

A shock £605m tax bill from authorities in Belgium has added to the pressures on Mr Ashley.

Sports Direct's statement concluded: "Sports Direct has consistently aimed to provide the widest range of products at attractive prices and will continue to work constructively with all its suppliers to enhance its product offering for the benefit of consumers."

Adidas was yet to comment but a Nike spokesperson told Sky News: "Nike continually evaluates the marketplace and competitive landscape to understand how we can best serve consumers.

"As part of this, from time to time we do make adjustments to our sales channels, in order to optimise distribution."

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