Edinburgh store to close
Ashley blames ‘greedy’ landlords for Frasers closures
Closing time: The store at the corner of Princes Street will shut
Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley has blamed “greedy landlords” for the closure of three House of Fraser department stores, including Princes Street, Edinburgh.
Mr Ashley, who bought the retailer out of administration for £90m, announced today that 15 stores previously earmarked for closure will stay open in addition to five already reprieved, safeguarding 3,500 jobs.
Stores in Edinburgh, Hull and Swindon will close after landlords refused to accept new terms to cut rents. A fourth store in Bath is also at risk of closure as talks continue with the city council.
Hundreds of staff affected by the three store closures are now going through redundancy consultation.
Mr Ashley had promised to keep most of the 59 stores open after buying House of Fraser in August.
The owner of Newcastle United football club, said on Sunday: “I am disappointed that in my opinion a small number of greedy landlords still refuse to be reasonable.
“Those landlords whom we have been unable to agree terms with include, but are not limited to, the following: Parabola Hope Street LLP, Redefine Paragon Square Hull Limited, and FI Real Estate Management Ltd.”
“We’ve showed what we can achieve on the British high street when we work together with landlords.
“I would like to thank those landlords who have helped us to rescue approximately 3,500 jobs at the stores we have saved to date.
“I am calling on everybody to pull together, including landlords and local authorities in order to help to save as many House of Fraser stores and jobs as possible on the great British high street.”
The British Property Federation, which represents landlords, defended their right to negotiate the best deal.
Chief executive Melanie Leech said: “What has been taking place is negotiations between House of Fraser and its landlords – a two-party process – where each party will have its own interests and one party simply can’t cry ‘unfair’ in the media when it doesn’t get what it wants.
“There will be a range of factors to consider on a store-by-store basis but what property owners won’t be doing is simply leaving stores empty for the sake of it, that would be in no one’s interests.”
The stores at which new rent terms have been agreed are: Altrincham, Aylesbury, Birkenhead, Camberley, Carlisle, Darlington, Doncaster, Grimsby, High Wycombe, Lincoln, London (Oxford Street), Middlesbrough, Plymouth, Skipton, Telford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Maidstone, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield.