September 22, 2018
Sports Direct tycoon has been unable to agree terms with landlords of outlets in Edinburgh, Hull and Swindon
Mike Ashley to close three House of Fraser stores
The troubled retailer House of Fraser is to shut three stores and is considering the closure of a fourth after its new owner, Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley, failed to agree terms with their landlords.
Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United Football Club, recently bought the department store chain out of administration for £90m. Following negotiations with landlords around Britain, 20 House of Frasers have so far been saved from closure, safeguarding around 3,500 jobs.
However, Ashley told the Press Association he had been unable to save outlets in Edinburgh, Hull and Swindon after failing to agree terms.
Hundreds of staff employed at the three stores will now go through redundancy consultation.
A fourth House of Fraser, in Bath, is also at risk of closure as Ashley negotiates with the city council, the store’s landlord, over new rental terms.
It is understood that the landlords were reluctant to agree to the low – or in some cases zero – rents that Ashley was demanding. “I am disappointed that in my opinion a small number of greedy landlords still refuse to be reasonable,” he said.
Ashley, who has pledged to save around 47 of House of Fraser’s 59 outlets since buying the chain, recently struck a deal to save its flagship Oxford Street store.
Others that have been saved from closure include stores in Altrincham, Aylesbury, Camberley, Carlisle, Darlington, Doncaster, Grimsby, High Wycombe, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Plymouth, Skipton, Telford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Maidstone, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield.
“We’ve shown what we can achieve on the British high street when we work together with landlords,” said Ashley. “I would like to thank those landlords who have helped us to rescue approximately 3,500 jobs at the stores we have saved to date.”
Another store to be rescued is in Birkenhead, the constituency of veteran MP Frank Field, who described the news as “tremendous”.
“This cornerstone of our town centre is being given a chance to flourish once again,” he said.
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