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House of Fraser: the countdown to administration and purchase

House of fraser oxford street

As Sports Direct buys House of Fraser out of administration, Drapers looks back over the 169-year history of the business and tracks the downward spiral from jewel of the high street to a business in distress. 

1849: Hugh Fraser and James Arthur open a drapery shop at the corner of Argyle Street and Buchanan Street in Glasgow.

1941: Fraser and Arthur acquire a businesses in Scotland and rename to become House of Fraser Ltd.

1953: Binns Ltd is added to HoF, helpeing to extend the business across Scotland and into north-east England and Carlisle.

1957: HoF takes control of luxury department store Harrods. It is eventually separated from the group in 1994.

1971: The company takes on other stores around this time, which go on to become Dickins & Jones, Rackhams and Cavendish House. HoF also acquires Dingles Group.

1985: HoF gains a new owner, the Fayeds – headed up by Mohamed Al-Fayed, then owner of Harrods and The Ritz Paris.

1994: The company is re-listed on the stock exchange, having originally been listed in 1948.

2001: The DH Evans store on Oxford Street is rebranded to become the HoF flagship store.

2013: The first HoF international store opens in Abu Dhabi’s World Trade Center shopping mall.

2014: China’s Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co, a subsidiary of Sanpower Group, becomes HoF’s new owner.

November 2016: Nigel Oddy resigns as CEO of the business

January 2017: HoF opens its first Chinese store in Nanjing. A second store opens in Xuzhou in September.

May: HoF names Alex Williamson as its new CEO. Williamson was formerly CEO at racing venue Goodwood.

July: Head office staff are placed into redundancy consultation as part of HoF’s restructuring programme.

12 February 2018: HoF appoints Rothschild to advise on refinancing its debt.

28 March: Sanpower invests £15m in House of Fraser, and concerns mount over the future of the chain.

24 April: Nanjing Xinjiekou signs a memorandum of understanding, beginning the process of selling 51% of its 89% stake in HoF to C Banner, the Chinese owner of Hamleys.

10 May: HoF reveals a loss of nearly £44m for the year to December 31 2017, compared with a profit of £1.5m in 2016.

7 June: HoF announces proposals for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) deal, under which it would close 31 of its 59 stores, affecting 6,000 staff.

21 June: Ahead of the CVA vote, HoF axes four merchandising directors and places a significant proportion of its buying and merchandising teams into consultation.

22 June: The CVA plans are approved by creditors.

20 July: Landlords file a legal challenge in the Scottish courts against the proposed CVA deal.

1 August: C Banner calls off plans to invest £70m into HoF, putting it on shaky ground.

2 August: Rescue talks for HoF continue. Philip Day, the owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, Mike Ashley of Sports Direct and turnaround specialist Alteri Investors are thought to be considering investment.

10 August, 7.30 am: House of Fraser enters administration.

10 August, 9.50 am: Sports Direct acquires the business

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