What stopped Cricket’s move to Liverpool ONE?

In 2022 LBN revealed iconic Liverpool fashion retailer Cricket was moving to Liverpool ONE but in early 2023 the move was stopped – with Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley proving the unlikely obstacle. Tony McDonough reports

Cricket Fashion in Metquarter in Liverpool. Picture by Tony McDonough


When Justine Mills and Gerard Mannix launched Cricket Fashion as a menswear boutique in 1991 they could not have imagined what a phenomenon it would become.

Later the business pivoted to women’s designer fashion and a legend was born. Liverpool women have long been renowned for their love of high fashion and in Cricket they found their nirvana.

Cricket was one of the first independent retailers to stock Christian Louboutin shoes and accessories. It has also offered clothes from Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Céline and Stella McCartney.

It was named as one of The 50 Best Boutiques in Britain by The Daily Telegraph in 2019. And Justine Mills is established as one of the leading figures in the UK fashion industry.

In the early 2000s football’s WAG (wives and girlfriends) phenomenon hit a frenzied peak. Women such as Coleen Rooney, Alex Gerrard and Sheree Murphy were seldom out of the tabloids… and more often than not they were wearing something bought at Cricket.

Justine became one of the most prominent names in UK women’s high end fashion. But this elevated status took some getting used to.

In an interview with media outlet Dazed in 2023, she said: “I remember stocking Stella McCartney’s second season at Chloé. That was my first fashion show in Paris.

“I turned up on my own, I didn’t know where you went, who you were meant to see. I ended up standing with all the students when I had a seat – I was just so grateful to be there.”

She added: “People finally realised that luxury could be sold in the north through what we do. Selfridges and Harvey Nichols saw there was an appetite for this type of clothing outside of London.

“Before, people must’ve thought we all wore tweed caps and had a bit of straw hanging out our mouths.”


Cricket co-founder Justine Mills with former editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful
Cricket has become a byword for high end women’s fashion


Cricket’s original store was based at Cavern Walks which, in the 1990s, was a small but thriving shopping mall. Cavern Walks declined following the opening of Metquarter, in nearby Whitechapel, and then the launch of Liverpool ONE in 2008.

However, Cricket stayed at the location and remained a popular destination for fans of designer clothing. It wasn’t until 2018 that the store upped sticks and relocated to Metquarter.

In 2019, with Cricket’s reputation still riding high, Justine and Gerard decided to reap the rewards of their success. They sold a majority stake in the business to high street sportswear giant JD Sports.

Started with a single shop in Bury in Greater Manchester by John Wardle and David Makin in 1981, JD became one of the best known names in UK retail and in 2023 it enjoyed revenues of more than £10bn.

However, the business didn’t stop at sportswear. Over the years it has completed multiple acquisitions, building up a large portfolio of retail brands. Designer fashion brands included Choice and Giulio.

Following the buyout Justine and Gerard retained a minority stake in Cricket Fashion (registered as Catchbest Ltd on Companies House) and the business continued to thrive under their guidance.

Most recent accounts filed at Companies House showed a 57% increase in annual revenues to £7.7m with pre-tax profits more than doubling to £753,000. Fashions may change but Cricket remains very much en vogue.

In November 2022 Liverpool ONE operator Grosvenor announced, with great fanfare, that Cricket was to relocate to its £1bn development. It would take up residence in Peter’s Lane, off Church Street, already home to a number of high-end brands.

Cricket’s new store, spanning three floors, would offer a range of designer menswear, womenswear, and children’s collections, alongside designer bags, shoes and accessories.

Rob Deacon, senior asset manager at Grosvenor, said: “Cricket is the perfect addition to Liverpool ONE as part of our strategy to build our premium offer.”

But months later, no progress on the move had been made and Cricket remained at Metquarter, from where it trades to this day. So what happened? Step forward Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley.

In December 2022 his Frasers Group swooped to acquire a job lot of 15 brands owned by JD in a deal worth £47.5m. Cricket was among those brands. It was reported in fashion sector outlets but received little attention here in Merseyside.


Mike Ashley
Retail tycoon Mike Ashley, majority shareholder of Frasers Group
Metquarter retail mall in Whitechapel in Liverpool, where Cricket will now remain
Peter's Lane
Peter’s Lane in Liverpool ONE was to be Cricket’s new home. Picture by Tony McDonough


In an interview with LBN, Liverpool ONE estate director Iain Finlayson revealed it was the close proximity to another high-end fashion outlet, Flannels, that ultimately scuppered the move.

Flannels is another premium brand owned by Mr Ashley’s Frasers Group. It now has a prominent outlet in the former Owen Owen department store building in Clayton Square… and Cricket, it seems, would have been a little too close for comfort.

“The deal for Cricket to move into Liverpool ONE was done and dusted but then Frasers bought Cricket and a number of other brands from JD,” said Iain.

“That changed the game overnight because Cricket owned Flannels which is just outside Liverpool ONE, and that would have been a rival. So they said ‘we are going to step back from that’. That was a bit of a blow for us.”

LBN understands Cricket’s lease with Metquarter has some years to run so the brand, of which Justine and Gerard remain directors and in charge of, is likely to stay there as a leading destination fashion retailer for some time to come.

Frasers Group has also acquired Compton House, the prominent building in Church Street that was the long-time home of Marks & Spencer until its move to Liverpool ONE in summer 2023.

Compton House, once a high-end hotel favoured by American tourists, will soon be home to a Sports Direct store and health club and will significantly increase Mr Ashley’s footprint in the Liverpool retail sector.

LBN invited both Frasers Group and Justine Mills to comment for this article.

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