House of Fraser to scrap all in-house brands

Mike Ashley warns more House of Fraser stores will close unless Govt fixes “broken and unworkable” business rates system
Mike Ashley says House of Fraser could face more store closures in the new year.

House of Fraser is understood to be scrapping all of its remaining in-house brands as its new owners Sports Direct continue to shake up operations.

According to Drapers, the department stores buying and merchandising team could take a hit as brands including Issa, Biba, Label Lab, Criminal Denim and Linea face the axe.

These own brands are understood to have been underperforming for some time, with the majority of its growth coming from its many concessions instead.

This has fuelled speculation about its new owner Mike Ashley’s strategy for the future of the struggling department store, which he has said he wants to transform into the “Harrods of the High Street”.

Sources told Drapers that it looked as if Ashley was trying to transform House of Fraser in a “bigger Flannels”, the department store already owned by the billionaire, while others have suggested he could shift the focus from concessions to its wholesale operations.

This follows news earlier this month that Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM), which owns Calvetron Brands, Jane Norman, Berwin & Berwin and Jaeger, would be pulling all of its goods from the department store.

“Our brands have a long history with House of Fraser, and we worked hard to try to secure a satisfactory arrangement,” a spokesperson for EWM said.

“But sadly we have not been able to agree future trading terms that give us confidence in the security and continuity of the House of Fraser business.

Ashley’s takeover process has been tumultuous since he bought the department store out of administration last month for £90 million.

Suppliers are reportedly owed millions by the embattled department store including XPO Logistics, the firm which runs its main distribution centre in Wellingborough, which is owed £30.4 million.

Since the takeover XPO has ordered workers to stop accepting goods and processing deliveries over the pay dispute, leading to House of Fraser’s website being pulled and all orders and deliveries being cancelled.

Customers were informed last week that they would not be receiving a refund on goods they are yet to receive, despite Sports Direct previously promising to pay up.

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