Saturday, 15 December, 2018

House of Fraser bought by Sports Direct

Shoppers outside House of Fraser House of Fraser is scrambling to secure a backer before its cash runs out
Andrew Wong | 11 August, 2018, 01:45

The group employs more than 5,900 staff while a further 10,100 people are employed in the various concessions within the House of Fraser stores.

It follows news that the company was to go into administration.

The British retailer said that the business would continue trading, while administrators Ernst & Young would attempt to complete a sale.

Billionaire Ashley, who also owns English Premier League soccer club Newcastle United, said on Friday his ambition was to transform House of Fraser "into the Harrods of the High Street" - a reference to the Qatari-owned luxury department store in London that was once owned by House of Fraser.

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In an announcement on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange earlier this morning, where its bonds are listed, House of Fraser had said "discussions with interested investors and its main secured creditors have not concluded in a solvent solution".

Reading's House of Fraser store could have been saved after the company was bought out by Sports Direct.

Half its stores, including Beatties in Wolverhampton, Rackhams in Birmingham and those in Telford and Shrewsbury face closure under a previous rescue plan but not until after Christmas.

In administration, Ashley will be able to choose which parts of House of Fraser he wants and those parts he does not.

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EY, which is expected to be appointed administrators today, is expected to continue those discussions in hopes of reaching a deal "shortly after their appointment".

"This is about global tax arrangements, because most of the online businesses are worldwide businesses".

House of Fraser chief executive Alex Williamson had this morning spoken of his confidence that the company's future would be secured in short order, saying "an acquisition of the 169-year-old retail business will see House of Fraser regain stability, certainty and financial strength". Even within a struggling industry, the likes of House of Fraser look like relics of the Edwardian era, about as relevant to the 21st century as typewriters and video players.

Frank Slevin, chairman of House of Fraser, said: "This has been an extraordinarily challenging six months in which the business has delivered so many critical elements of the turnaround plan. The stores are failing to attract sustainable levels of footfall while battling against rising operating costs and shifts in shopper behaviour".

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