House of Fraser has warned that “time is running out” to save its stores, and attacked landlords for not accepting reduced rent payments.
The department store retailer, which was acquired by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley earlier this month for £90m, has said that some store closures will be inevitable if landlords resist calls to accept rent reductions.
Ashley previously vowed to keep 47 of the retailer’s 59 stores open, with seven stores previously earmarked for closure saved to date including its branch on Oxford Street as well as its stores in Plymouth, Darlington, Carlisle and Middlesbrough.
A spokesman for House of Fraser said: “Some landlords are being very collaborative in order to give us a chance at turning the business around, giving House of Fraser a lifeline and saving hundreds of jobs.
“However, some greedy landlords would rather see the stores close than help save the jobs of hundreds of people.
“We will continue to try and convince these landlords but ultimately time is running out. Some closures will be announced.”
It is understood that some landlords are being asked to accept rent-free deals, while others are being offered the rent equivalent to 5% of store turnover.
The British Property Federation’s chief executive Melanie Leech said: “Many property owners are investing in and managing property on behalf of pensioners’ savings, and depend on occupiers being able to pay rent. The long-term health of our high streets also depends on this.
“There will be a range of factors to consider on a store-by-store basis – but what property owners won’t be doing is simply leaving stores empty for the sake of it; that would be in no-one’s interests.”