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Landlords weigh up legal case on House of Fraser CVA

Property owners are considering legal action against department store House of Fraser as it seeks to close 31 of its 59 stores in a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

The department store chain revealed proposals last week that include the closure of its London Oxford Street flagship and other stores throughout the country that will affect an estimated 6,000 staff.

The Sunday Times said a dozen landlords are in talks with law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) about a possible block of House of Fraser’s CVA.

Ben Jones, partner and head of restructuring and Insolvency, said: “Any specific information about the clients Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner are advising on the CVA issue or otherwise is naturally highly confidential. BCLP remains active in reaching out to both landlords and tenants to understand more their concerns on CVAs, and is working with key stakeholders in the sector to air concerns and consider alternatives to the unproductive phoney war being waged through the media.

“Our aim is to identify a pathway which can help secure the long term survival of viable businesses without landlords feeling they are the fall guy. BCLP is hosting a workshop for stakeholders and industry bodies in the coming weeks to facilitate this discussion, and elsewhere we are surveying clients from across the sector to garner additional points of view about the CVA issue.”

HoF’s CVA terms were a condition of the proposed purchase of 51% stake in the company by Chinese fashion conglomerate C Banner.

Announcing the CVA last week, HoF chief executive Alex Williamson said it was the only way the struggling retailer could fight for survival and that there was “no other option”.

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