Hundreds of jobs are at risk as House of Fraser announced plans to close another four of its stores, all of which are located within Intu shopping centres.
The department store today confirmed that the four stores closing down in early 2019 are at Intu’s Lakeside in Essex, Metrocentre in Gateshead, Norwich and Nottingham schemes.
In a statement, Sports Direct – which took over House of Fraser in August amid a pre-pack administration deal – said it had “various meetings” with Intu and “adopted a flexible approach”.
“Despite our best efforts we have been unable to agree reasonable terms for these stores to continue trading,” the retail company said.
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 one per cent of our secured rent and 526,000sq 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.”
Sports Direct confirmed that affected House of Fraser staff will now enter a consultation period.
However, it would not confirm if staff would be given opportunities to relocate elsewhere in the company, nor how many job losses the consultation could result in – although that could be in the hundreds.
“We hope other institutional landlords will continue to work with us in order to save stores and jobs,” Sports Direct said.
Sports Direct founder and chief executive Mike Ashley said: “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 House of Fraser stores in their schemes.”
After rescuing the department store chain from near-collapse in August for a £90 million price tag, Ashley vowed to save 80 per cent of its stores – or 47 out of its total 59.
This compared to previous plans to close 31 stores under a CVA plan before House of Fraser entered administration.
In September, Ashley agreed terms on 20 stores and has been operating the estate on short term licences which allow him to hand over the keys with just two months’ notice.
Last month, House of Fraser confirmed that its flagship Kendals Store in Manchester is due to cease trading, following news that stores in Exeter and Shrewsbury are also due to close in early 2019, leading to hundreds of job losses.
House of Frasers in Cirencester, Hull, Swindon, Edinburgh, and Chichester are also closing down.
Reports indicate that the retailer’s City of London store could also face closure in January.
To date, 22 House of Fraser stores have been saved from closure, saving an estimated 3500 jobs.