500 jobs safe as House of Fraser secures Belfast store’s future

640
House of Fraser Belfast
// House of Fraser Belfast to remain open after striking new deal with landlords
// 500 jobs saved
// Belfast store will also undergo a £10m renovation

House of Fraser’s Belfast store has been saved from closure after a new deal with landlords was agreed, securing the employment of 500 staff members who work there.

The new deal with landlords Commerz Real will also see the 120,000sq ft store, located at Belfast’s Victoria Square shopping centre, undergo a £10 million refurbishment scheme starting mid this year.

The future of House of Fraser’s Belfast branch had been up in the wait for a few months after the department store chain was bought out of administration by Sports Direct last year.

House of Fraser also plans to add new luxury and contemporary brands concessions to the store, as part of Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley’s plans to transform the retailer into the “Harrods of the high street”.

“This marks a significant moment in the turnaround of House of Fraser, and we are committed to investing and remodelling this popular store,” Sports Direct head of elevation Michael Murray said.

“The landlord was very proactive and reasonable, and as a result we will elevate and invest in the store in order to create Belfast’s first luxury department store.”

The news comes as the four House of Fraser stores hosted by Intu shopping centres were recently secured under an interim agreement, after a stand-off between Sports Direct and the retail property giant over new terms almost saw them shut down.

When Sports Direct took over House of Fraser, Ashley vowed to save 47 out of its 59 stores.

This compared to previous plans to close 31 stores under a CVA plan before House of Fraser fell into administration.

The Belfast store’s secure future means 42 House of Fraser stores have now reportedly had their leases extended since Sports Direct’s takeover.

This means an estimate of more than 4000 jobs have been saved.

Sports Direct has been operating the remainder of the House of Fraser estate on short term licences which allow it to hand over the keys to landlords with just two months’ notice.

It said it would close down the Exeter, Shrewsbury, Cirencester, Edinburgh and Chichester House of Fraser stores after an agreement with respective landlords was not reached.

Meanwhile, the iconic House of Fraser stores in Glasgow and Manchester have been rescued, along with the Swindon and Hull branches.

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette‘s free daily email newsletter