House of Fraser’s Swindon store to remain open

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’s store in Swindon is due to remain open after its landlord and new owner Sports Direct came to an agreement on new terms.

The department store’s location in The Brunel Shopping Centre in Swindon was previously earmarked for closure, however negotiations between its owner FI Real Estate Management (FIREM) and Mike Ashley’s firm led to an agreement on revised terms safeguarding the jobs of dozens of staff.

“There has been understandable concern about the future of House of Fraser and we are delighted to have agreed commercially viable terms that permit its continued presence at the Brunel,” a FIREM spokesperson said.

“The determination of both parties to secure agreeable terms was fuelled by the knowledge of how pivotal this store is to the local economy and the people who live and work here. We look forward to working with the new management team to ensure the future success of the store.”

Last week it was announced that all of House of Fraser’s four stores within Intu shopping centres were due to shut in early 2019.

The company said at the time: “Despite our best efforts we have been unable to agree reasonable terms for these stores to continue trading.”

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.

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