Sports Direct slams House of Fraser store closure claims
House of Fraser’s owner Sports Direct vehemently denied a report on Monday that most stores will close after the Christmas trading period. It responded to a report in the Telegraph that had suggested HoF was preparing to exit most of its stores.
On Monday, Sports Direct said: “The Telegraph article refers to ‘fresh papers from administrators EY’, which is the progress report for the administration of HFL Realisations Limited (formerly House of Fraser Limited). This refers to a number of leases being surrendered for £nil and a small number of property leases remaining to be dealt with. Please note that the surrenders relate to the leases between the landlords and the old House of Fraser company and have nothing to do with the Sports Direct Group including the new House of Fraser Limited.”
It added that the firm has entered into new leases on the majority of House of Fraser stores and “the EY report relates to an entirely different company. Sports Direct continues to work with landlords across the whole of the remaining House of Fraser estate.”
It also bemoaned the fact that “as a result of this erroneous misreading of the administrators report from EY, staff across the HoF group have today woken up to a false sense of job insecurity. Sports Direct is working rapidly on our ongoing investment programme with the HoF brand and it is therefore totally incorrect to assume that there will be large numbers of store closures in the new year. We are taking legal advice with regards to this unbelievable level of misreporting.”
Mike Ashley's company acquired the failed chain last year for £90 million and promise to keep as many of the stores open as possible, despite previous management having been preparing to close more than half of them. But after negotiating initial low- or no-rent deals, the retail entrepreneur admitted in Sports Direct’s most recent results announcement that House of Fraser was a problem purchase and wouldn’t be easy to turn around.
Ashley has recently unveiled a new, more upmarket strategy that would see the launch of an upscale department store chain, called simply Frasers, around the UK. However, the plan involves only five HoF sites.
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