// Sports Direct blames Harrods for House of Fraser store closure in Milton Keynes
// The closure of House of Fraser at the Centre MK shopping centre will lead to 172 job losses
// Harrods holds a legacy to the lease of the store that would entitle it to the site if House of Fraser leaves
Sports Direct has pinned the blame on Harrods for the impending job losses that will come from the store closure of House of Fraser in Milton Keynes.
Sports Direct International said it would shut down the House of Fraser store at the Centre:MK shopping centre at the end of January, leading to the loss of 172 jobs.
Harrods reportedly holds a legacy to the lease of the store that would entitle it to the site if House of Fraser vacates it.
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Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley has reportedly offered to redevelop the entire store or take just part of it.
However, a spokesman from Ashley’s firm said the company has yet to receive any formal acceptance of its proposals.
A Harrods spokeswoman denied this and said it was Sports Direct’s decision to close.
It’s understood that Harrods plans to take the store back to use it as the second of its standalone beauty stores, H Beauty, which is slated to open in Milton Keynes next year.
The Sports Direct spokesman said: “We have made multiple offers to both stay and invest in the entire store, or alternatively to take the part of the store that will now be vacant.
“We are still yet to receive formal acceptance of our proposals, and Harrods are refusing to secure continuity of employment for the staff currently employed by House of Fraser Milton Keynes.
“Regrettably, we have been left with no choice but to announce the closure of the store on 31 January, causing a devastating number of redundancies.”
The Harrods spokeswoman said: ”This is about House of Fraser making the decision to close.
“Harrods has been in conversations with House of Fraser and the landlord to ensure the best outcome, and build a successful business in the local area if they were to leave.”
Sports Direrct’s full year report earlier this year saw it label the problems for House of Fraser – which it acquired out of administration in August 2018 – as “nothing short of terminal in nature”.
This prompted creditors to extend House of Fraser’s administration by another year, with further store closures expected.
On the flip side, Sports Direct is reportedly eyeing somewhere between 15 to 31 House of Fraser stores that could receive millions of pounds of investment over the next five years in order to relaunch it and take it upmarket under the Frasers fascia.
The new Frasers concept is expected to launch next year, and last month it was confirmed that Sports Direct International would change its name to Frasers Group to reflect its “changing profile and consumer proposition” amid a wider “elevation” strategy.