Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has signed to keep the House of Fraser flagship on Oxford Street open, in a move which “cements his intentions for the department store chain”.
The Oxford Street store was due to close in January under the CVA plan. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
“We are absolutely delighted that the Oxford Street store will stay open and this is the first statement from Mike Ashley that he is committed to transforming the House of Fraser business and saving jobs,” James Keany, head of national agency at CBRE, told Drapers.
“We are going to need to work with landlords, councils and suppliers throughout this whole process and we are currently trying to keep every one of the 59 stores open.
“We are working with landlords but do need them to cooperate. We have spoken to 90% of landlords and it has been a positive process.”
Keany reiterated that Ashley’s plan for HoF is to take the chain more upmarket, as “Harrods of the high street” but said it is too early to say exactly what this entails.
“People automatically think of Sports Direct but HoF will be more aligned with Flannels,” he said.
“The Oxford Street deal was an example of a landlord working with Sports Direct in a very positive fashion, hence the speed we have been able to secure this important deal. We need more landlords like this for this to succeed.”
Michael Murray, Sports Direct’s head of elevation added: “We said we would keep as many stores open as possible, and in less than a week we have saved the biggest store. Oxford street was meant to close in January and now it’s safe which is great news for all parties. Everyone must remember it was a bust business and we need landlords, councils and brands to pull together to save House of Fraser on the high street.”