Billionaire Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct and owner of Newcastle United runs a sprawling retail empire – including sportswear brands, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles, lingerie firm Agent Provocateur, luxury fashion chain Flannels – and major shareholdings in Debenhams and French Connection.

With many bricks-and-mortar stores struggling due to a combination of rising rents and increasing online competition, could Mr Ashley prove to be their saviour? He himself says “politicians and landlords should be doing more to save our struggling High Streets”.