House of Fraser Birkenhead store ‘saved from closure’

Frank Field MP

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley has reportedly reversed a decision to shut the Birkenhead House of Fraser store next month, saving scores of jobs.

The retail tycoon, who bought the House of Fraser business out of administration last September, announced the Wirral site was one of 15 House of Fraser locations earmarked for imminent closure that had been saved, soon after concluding the £90m acquisition.

However, in July this year signs appeared in the store’s shopfront declaring “closing down, all stock reduced”.

A date of September 27 had been publicised as the last trading day for the store in the town’s Pyramids shopping centre.

Now, it is reported that Mr Ashley has agreed to re-stock the store immediately, after meeting the town’s MP, Frank Field.

Former Labour MP Mr Field, who is standing in the next election for his new Birkenhead Social Justice Party, had requested an urgent meeting with Mr Ashley after the closing down signs appeared.

Today, the Liverpool ECHO reported that the two have now met and had discussed a “range of options” and that Mr Ashley had pledged that the store will “immediately be stocked”.

Mr Field said he told him that, together with the landlord, he wanted to help keep the store open for “several years”.

The ECHO reported that Mr Field said: “I met Mike Ashley this week to try and find a way of safeguarding the immediate future of Birkenhead’s House of Fraser.

“I’m really pleased that we have succeeded on this front.

“During our meeting, he pointed out how crippling the current system of transitional relief on business rates can be for household names on the high street – not only in Birkenhead, but across the country.

“If you’re struggling as a business, the system seems to clobber you.

“Clearly this raises broader questions about the future of the high street. I’m, therefore, seeking a meeting with the Local Government Secretary to see if he will review this system.”