House of Fraser is to shutter Intu stores nationwide after talks between the retailer and landlord broke down.
Stores in Essex’s Lakeside centre, Newcastle’s Metrocentre and in Norwich and Nottingham will now close in the new year. Staff now face redundancy.
Sports Direct said it adopted a “flexible approach” to the multiple meetings it held with Intu over the stores but that “despite our best efforts we have been unable to agree reasonable terms for these stores to continue trading”.
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley said: “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.”
Ashley bought House of Fraser out of administration in August for £90m after the business collapsed when Hamley’s owner C.Banner pulled the plug on plans to take a controlling stake in the chain and invest £70m into its turnaround strategy.
The department store chain was planning to shut 31 of its 59 stores in a CVA and slash rents at a number of other locations. Ashley originally vowed to keep 80% of the estate open. He has since shut stores as talks with landlords have broken down. HoF stores in Cirencester, Chichester, Edinburgh, Exeter, Hull, Manchester, Shrewsbury and Swindon are all set for closure.
An Intu spokesperson said: “We have been advised this morning that the four House of Fraser stores in our portfolio will be closing in early 2019, representing around 1% of our secured rent and 526,000 sq ft of retail space.
“We have had numerous meetings with Sports Direct including at the highest level to try to agree terms. While we cannot discuss the detail, we have been unable to reach agreement.
“We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to re-engineer and re-let this underperforming space to new and exciting alternatives. We have a strong track record of re-purposing space as with the example of the former Sainsbury unit at Intu Merry Hill, now one of Next’s largest stores in the UK. Ideas on the table include not only other large-scale retailers but also non-traditional shopping centre uses.”