House of Fraser set to fall into administration

House of Fraser store sign. House of Fraser has settled a legal challenge from landlords over plans to close 31 of its 59 stores next year. PRESS ASSOCIATION

Sports Direct International has agreed a deal to acquire all of the United Kingdom stores of House of Fraser, the department store chain's brand and all of the stock in the business.

"The directors of the group's operating companies, House of Fraser (Stores) Limited, House of Fraser Limited and James Beattie Limited (the "Operating Companies"), have therefore resolved to seek the appointment of administrators".

Now thousands of jobs remain under threat at House of Fraser, after the chain of department stores was forced to file for administration.

Last month Sports Direct booked a charge of 85 million pounds for its disastrous investment in Debenhams - a rival department store group to House of Fraser. The administration is due to be arranged at a court hearing early on Friday morning.

In a massive blow to its 17500 staff, House of Fraser is to appoint administrators after negotiations with its investors and creditors failed to conclude in a "solvent solution", according to reports.

The department store announced plans to close more than half of its shops back in June, although the Rushden Lakes store was not one of those identified for closure.

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"We will do our best to keep as many stores open as possible", Ashley said in a statement, making no mention of his plans for the workforce - over 5,900 direct employees and 10,100 who work for concession partners.

"All stores will be open for business as usual today".

House of Fraser chief executive Alex Williamson had this morning spoken of his confidence that the company's future would be secured in short order, saying "an acquisition of the 169-year-old retail business will see House of Fraser regain stability, certainty and financial strength".

Bosses had hoped to close 31 of its 59 stores under a company voluntary agreement, a controversial insolvency process which allows struggling businesses to close unprofitable sites and cut rents.

It is not clear what will happen now to those stores and their workforce following the takeover by Mr Ashley.

The accelerating pace of the crisis was made plain on Thursday when the beleaguered department store chain revealed that it had to secure funding before August 20 as crunch talks with potential rescuers continued. Even within a struggling industry, the likes of House of Fraser look like relics of the Edwardian era, about as relevant to the 21st century as typewriters and video players.

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