Ashley wants House of Fraser to be ‘Harrods of the High Street’

Photo courtesy of: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

The new owner of House of Fraser, Mike Ashley, says he will keep as many of the rescued retailer’s stores open as possible.

Ashley’s Sports Direct bought House of Fraser for £90m on Friday (10 August) in a pre-pack sale after it had fallen into administration.

All 59 shops opened on Friday, including 31 that have already been earmarked for closure as part of a restructuring agreement.

Ashley said: “This is a massive step forward and further enhances our strategy of elevation across the Group. This will benefit both House of Fraser and Flannels in the luxury sector. We will do our best to keep as many stores open as possible. It is vital that we restore the right level of ongoing relationships with the luxury brands. Our deal was conservative, consistent and simple. My ambition is to transform House of Fraser into Harrods of the High Street.”

House of Fraser employs 17,500 people, including 11,500 concession staff.

Unions have warned that House of Fraser’s staff could face being subjected to “poor working and pay practices”.

Unite regional officer with responsibility for Sports Direct Scott Lennon said: “Sports Direct is a leopard that has not changed its spots and we hope that its poor record on pay and employment practices are not transferred to the House of Fraser.

“Sports Direct’s record at the Shirebrook warehouse operation in the East Midlands has been dreadful and, despite the recent terrible publicity, wages remain at the minimum legally payable, and the terms and employment conditions are threadbare.

“The company does not want to engage in any meaningful sense with Unite at Shirebrook and this obviously sparks concern at the fate that awaits the House of Fraser staff under the new ownership.

“We fear for jobs and employment conditions at the House of Fraser going forward. The staff are entering a period of great uncertainty and worry.”