// Intu confirms all four House of Fraser stores it hosts will remain open
// Comes two months after Sports Direct first announced it would close those stores down
// Sports Direct acquired House of Fraser last summer
Sports Direct has backfliped on a decision to shut down all four House of Fraser stores situated within Intu shopping centres.
House of Fraser’s stores located within Intu’s Lakeside in Essex, Metrocentre in Gateshead, Norwich and Nottingham schemes will now continue to operate in the advent of “constructive discussions”.
The news comes two months after Sports Direct, which bought House of Fraser out of administration in a £90 million pre-pack deal last summer, first announced it would close those four Intu stores after failing to agree terms.
At the time, 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.”
This morning, Intu confirmed it has now come to an “an interim agreement” with Sports Direct, which means the House of Fraser shops will remain open for the immediate future.
“We are committed to working with all our retailers to ensure they are perfectly placed to showcase their brands and draw in shoppers,” a spokesman for the shopping centre giant said.
He added: “We confirm that following constructive discussions with Sports Direct, we have reached an interim agreement on four House of Fraser stores at Intu Chapelfield, Intu Lakeside, Intu Metrocentre and Intu Victoria Centre.”
When Sports Direct took over House of Fraser, Ashley vowed to save 47 out of its 59 stores as he pursued his ambition to turn it into the “Harrods of the high street”.
This compared to previous plans to close 31 stores under a CVA plan before House of Fraser fell into administration.
The fate of its Intu stores means around 25 House of Fraser stores have now been saved from closure, with more than 3600 jobs secured.
House of Fraser said it would close down its Exeter, Shrewsbury, Cirencester, Edinburgh and Chichester stores after an agreement with respective landlords was not reached.
Meanwhile, iconic House of Fraser stores in Glasgow and Manchester have been rescued, along with the Swindon and Hull branches.
Sports Direct has been operating the House of Fraser estate on short term licences which allow it to hand over the keys to landlords with just two months’ notice.
The news of House of Fraser’s Intu stores comes a few days after figures by Kantar Worldpanel revealed that the department store recorded a 60 per cent year-on-year crash in Christmas sales.
Additionally, Ashley has been in talks with HMV’s suppliers in hopes of buying the music and entertainment retailer out of administration.
Sports Direct most recently bought Evans Cycles out of administration at the tail end of 2018, and before House of Fraser, it acquired Agent Provocateur in a similar pre-pack deal.
Sports Direct also operates retailers USC, Flannels and the flagship eponymous sportswear chain, and has significant stakes in Debenhams and French Connection.