Sports Direct has made a U-turn over the future of its House of Fraser stores within Intu shopping centres.
The sportswear giant, which bought the department store business out of administration in a £90m deal in August, will now continue to operate its four House of Fraser sites located in Intu’s portfolio following “constructive discussions”.
The decision comes two months after Sports Direct said it would close all four of the House of Fraser stores in Intu centres after talks broke down.
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley said at the time: “We had multiple meetings with Intu but we were no further forward after 14 weeks. I urge other institutional landlords to be more proactive to help save the HoF stores in their schemes.”
Intu confirmed this morning it had now reached “an interim agreement”, which has secured the immediate future of the House of Fraser shops.
A spokesman for the property giant said: “We are committed to working with all our retailers to ensure they are perfectly placed to showcase their brands and draw in shoppers. Our high-footfall-winning destinations are designed to help all our tenants flourish.
“We confirm that following constructive discussions with Sports Direct, we have reached an interim agreement on four House of Fraser stores at Intu Chapelfield, Intu Lakeside, Intu Metrocentre and Intu Victoria Centre.”
Sports Direct’s head of elevation Mike Murray added: “This is great news for over a thousand employees whose jobs have now been saved. We would like to thank Intu and all of our colleagues for their hard work and patience throughout the past five months. This shows further commitment to the high street and the turnaround of House of Fraser.”
Ashley has leveraged his growing retail presence to apply pressure to landlords in a bid to secure better rental terms. He already counts Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Agent Provocateur in his high street stable.