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More House of Fraser store closures confirmed

The House of Fraser stores in Nottingham, Norwich, the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex and Metrocentre in Gateshead will close in the new year after Sports Direct failed to agree a deal with landlord Intu, Drapers can reveal.

Drapers understands the stores will be taken back by Intu in February and March next year.

A spokesman for Intu said: ”We have been advised this morning that the four House of Fraser stores in our portfolio will be closing in early 2019, representing around 1% of our secured rent and 526,000 sq ft of retail space.

“We have had numerous meetings with Sports Direct including at the highest level to try to agree terms. While we cannot discuss the detail, we have been unable to reach agreement.

“We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to re-engineer and re-let this underperforming space to new and exciting alternatives. We have a strong track record of re-purposing space as with the example of the former Sainsbury unit at intu Merry Hill, now one of Next’s largest stores in the UK. Ideas on the table include not only other large-scale retailers but also non-traditional shopping centre uses.

“Of the four stores, two are city centre locations and two are super-regionals, each offering unique opportunities. Our teams are looking at bespoke solutions that will create the right tenant mix to meet the needs of the local market, attracting more customers and ultimately benefitting all our tenants.”

As previously reported, the House of Frasers in Manchester, Cirencester, Shrewsbury, Hull, Swindon, Edinburgh, Chichester and Exeter are all closing. Drapers understands the store in the City of London is also due to close in January.

Since Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley bought House of Fraser in a pre-pack administration deal on 10 August, its stores are thought to have been operating on licences that allow them to close down with two months notice.

Ashley is also said to have offered landlords short term leasing deals tying rents to store performance, and has also offered to pay business rates on some large stores, but no rent.

A spokesman for Sports Direct said: ”We had various meetings with the landlord, Intu Properties, and adopted a flexible approach. Despite our best efforts we have been unable to agree reasonable terms for these stores to continue trading.

”Sadly, we are now in consultation with staff about the fact these stores face closure. We hope other institutional landlords will continue to work with us in order to save stores and jobs.”

Ashley added: “We had multiple meetings with Intu, but we were no further forward after 14 weeks. Unfortunately, these stores now face closing in the new year. I urge other institutional landlords to be more proactive to help save the HoF stores in their schemes.”

 

Readers' comments (5)

  • Some major empty units in the Metrocentre now. This will add one more big space. Intu will be under pressure soon if they can't fill them.

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  • I am sure he wants only to pay rates, so he can discount all the brands and drive all the traffic to his stores finishing off what is left of any independents on the UK.

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  • MA has secured Glasgow and Oxford Street the 2 highest turnover stores, I really don`t think he cares about the rest.

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  • darren hoggett

    While it is never good to see people lose their jobs, it will come to little surprise to other Norwich retailers that the store is to close. We called this some years back. Even though it was not on the original list prior to Ashley's purchase, its days were always numbered.

    In one sense it was an example of what was wrong with HOF as a whole - The store was massively oversized in relation to footfall, even on its inception. The overheads, coupled with constant discounting, promotions and declining footfall meant that it was only going to go one way.

    Had they had opened a smaller store in Chapelfield, that had the feel of a larger independent, it could have had a chance. However, the lure of the large, but unnecessary Anchor store meant it was ultimately doomed. It will not be an easy space to fill.

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  • Not the end of the closures. Other landlords will have similar thoughts to intu.

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