Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley is planning to shut more House of Fraser stores, it is understood.
Ashley, who bought the department store business out of administration in the summer, met property agents at CBRE last week to decide which shops to shut after landlords rejected new proposed terms, The Sunday Times reported.
The number of closures could be “significant”, according to the newspaper.
In September, Ashley struck terms with landlords on 20 of House of Fraser’s 59 branches, but only a few have been shut.
Since acquiring House of Fraser, Ashley has been operating shops on licences and he can hand back the keys with two months’ notice. By serving notice now he could trade the shops through peak and then close them.
Ashley has offered landlords short-term deals with rent dictated by branches’ performance. In some cases he has sought rent-free deals.
A source close to one landlord maintained that Ashley’s terms were “totally ludicrous” and that the shops could be let to other retailers.
However, one landlord said it was foolish not to agree terms with Ashley because he would never run unprofitable shops.