Meadowhall is Yorkshire's largest shopping centre. Credit: Google Earth

Mike Ashley among Meadowhall bidders

The retail entrepreneur’s Frasers Group has started to invest in shopping centres, and could be lining up its largest deal yet.

According to The Times, Frasers Group is “one of a handful” of parties competing to take on the South Yorkshire asset, which was put up for sale by British Land and Norges in September for an asking price of £750m.

Meadowhall, which spans around 1.4m sq ft and houses close to 300 shops, is the fifth largest shopping centre in the UK.

Since selling Newcastle United to its current Saudi Arabian owners, Ashley has returned to the lower profile he had always adopted before investing in football.

Frasers Group remains one of the busiest players in the UK retail landscape, being one of the few operators ready to take on the sizable spaces left behind by now.

As well as taking on stores for its own trading, through brands such as Flannels, the group has stepped up its ambitions.

In the last two years it has acquired The Mall in Luton and Dundee’s Overgate Centre, before paying Landsec a reported £45m for the 250,000 sq ft Junction 32 outlet mall near Castleford in autumn 2023.

Ashley was also reported last year to be mulling a bid to buy Headingley, the home of financially-troubled Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

British Land has long held on to a stake in Meadowhall, originally developed in the late 1980s by local operators Eddie Healey and Paul Sykes on a former steelworks.

The developers sold out to BL at the end of the 1990s, receiving around £1.2bn in a booming market for what remains Yorkshire’s largest shopping centre. BL later sold half the shareholding.

Frasers Group was approached for comment.

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