Will Sports Direct save Chichester’s House of Fraser?

House of Fraser store sign. House of Fraser has settled a legal challenge from landlords over plans to close 31 of its 59 stores next year. PRESS ASSOCIATION

United Kingdom billionaire Mike Ashley swooped in to rescue the House of Fraser Ltd department store chain for £90 million (S$157.5 million), staving off collapse for an anchor of the country's troubled shopping districts.

The deal represents a stunning coup for Mr Ashley, who has harboured a long-standing desire to move his retail empire upmarket by acquiring one of Britain's leading department store chains.

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has reportedly agreed to pay £90million for the chain - which includes an Aylesbury Friars Square Shopping Centre store which was already scheduled for closure.

The group employs more than 5,900 staff while a further 10,100 people are employed in the various concessions within the House of Fraser stores. On Oxford Street in London, the two are next door to each other.

He has held an 11 per cent stake in the business since 2014, and also owns close to 30 per cent of Debenhams, its main rival.

Will Sports Direct save Chichester’s House of Fraser?
He has held an 11 per cent stake in the business since 2014, and also owns close to 30 per cent of Debenhams, its main rival. On Oxford Street in London, the two are next door to each other.


The policy has not been universally successful.

"In addition, it will be interesting to see how Sport's Direct's multichannel experience could help to turn around House of Fraser's department stores' ill-fate". Shares in Debenhams were up 1.6 percent.

Court hearings are expected to take place at 7:30am today, "at which orders will be sought appointing individuals from Earnest & Young as administrators of each of the operating companies with immediate effect", the filing said.

Now, the government has indicated that it could bow to mounting pressure to reform the punitive business rates system after the tax was named among factors which contributed to House of Fraser's downfall.

"We need to be working with businesses to see what we can do to keep shops open".

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On Friday finance minister Philip Hammond gave his strongest indication yet that he was considering a tax on online retail players.

He said some worldwide tax treaties may have to be renegotiated as many big online businesses are global companies. "Britain has led the way in making the case for changes to the global tax system", Hammond told reporters.

House of Fraser chairman Frank Slevin said: "This has been an extraordinarily challenging six months in which the business has delivered so many critical elements of the turnaround plan".

The FTSE 250-listed firm noted that, for the year ended 28 January 2017, the House of Fraser group had gross assets of £946.3mmln and made a £14.7mln net profit.

It is understood that Mr Day's proposal was in excess of £100 million, would have avoided an administration and included House of Fraser's pension scheme.

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Most developers just deal with that because having your title in the Play Store makes it easier to reach a large audience. While this move will make Epic Games more money than otherwise, it will also set up a unsafe precedent for Google.


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