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Exclusive: House of Fraser to axe remaining house brands

House of Fraser is to axe its remaining house brands as it reshapes its strategy under new owner Sports Direct, Drapers understands.

The department store had cut four brands, including womenswear range Therapy, in 2016, but had continued to operate labels such as Linea, Biba, Issa, Label Lab and Criminal Denim.

However, sources have told Drapers that its remaining house brands are being axed, which will have implications for the buying and merchandising teams. It is not yet known if it there will be redundancies. 

A source told Drapers: “Now they’re cutting all of the remaining house brands like Linea and Biba. It will also change the style of buying because buyers will be selection buyers. This may have ramifications for the merchandising function too.”

One supplier said: “That fits with the strategy [Mike Ashley] seems to be adopting. He has a good merchandising system that does things that other people do manually.”

A source familiar with the business added: “[The house brands] were terrible. All the growth was coming from concessions. I guess [Mike Ashley] is making it into a bigger Flannels.”

Earlier this week, another supplier told Drapers he believed HoF was looking at different options and may shift its focus from a concession model towards wholesale.

Chief executive Alex Williamson admitted HoF’s own-brand sales ranges fell short of sales expectations during the Christmas trading period. 

In June this year, before the chain entered administration, HoF said it would focus on the “best selection” of contemporary brands, exclusivity and an agile response to trends as it battled to keep up with consumers.

Sports Direct acquired HoF for £90m in a pre-pack administration deal in August. The group’s founder and chief executive, Mike Ashley, has pledged to transform the 169-year-old chain into “Harrods of the high street” through the introduction of concierge services and luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada and Mallet Footwear.

Drapers has contacted Sports Direct for comment.



Readers' comments (3)

  • Didn't this happen in June when they re-structured and got rid of all their Own Label buying departments ?

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  • The House Brands were always a waste of time as they were not what the typical HOF consumer wanted. A positive, yet bluntly obvious move by Ashley.

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  • That makes a sense. Biba is dead and buried. OK in 60's 70's but not now. Original items only good for collectors. It will be sad to see end of Linea but it never had any "wow" factor. As for the other brands, Issa, Label Lab and Criminal Denim they were over priced poor quality merchandise with nothing different to offer. Do sincerely hope MA finds the right formula for H of F.

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