Mike Ashley has blamed “greedy landlords” for the closure of three House of Fraser stores in Edinburgh, Hull and Swindon after rent negotiation talks failed.
Hundreds of staff are now in redundancy consultation.
Sports Direct tycoon Ashley bought the department store chain out of administration for £90m in August and said at the time he was hopeful that most of the 59 stores, including 31 earmarked for closure under previous management, would stay open.
Following talks with landlords, 15 stores which had been set to close will now stay open, including the London Oxford Street flagship. Ashley has also come to new rent arrangements on an additional five stores.
One more store, in Bath, is still at risk of closure, as Ashley negotiates with landlords and the council.
Ashley said: “I am disappointed that in my opinion a small number of greedy landlords still refuse to be reasonable.
“We’ve showed what we can achieve on the British high street when we work together with landlords. I would like to thank those landlords who have helped us to rescue approximately 3,500 jobs at the stores we have saved to date.”
The British Property Federation defended landlords.
Chief executive Melanie Leech said: “What has been taking place is negotiations between House of Fraser and its landlords – a two-party process – where each party will have its own interests and one party simply can’t cry ‘unfair’ in the media when it doesn’t get what it wants.”
She added that many landlords work on behalf of pension funds and investors and were not motivated by “greed”.
She said: “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.”