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Mike Ashley blames “greedy landlords” as he threatens to close handful of House of Fraser stores

The Sports Direct owner has agreed on fresh terms at 20 of House of Fraser’s 59 stores, although there are still some which are refusing to budge
house of fraser
Ashley wants to keep at least 80% of House of Fraser’s store estate open for business

A handful of House of Fraser stores face imminent closure after its new boss Mike Ashley said he had been unable to agree on fresh terms with several “greedy landlords”.

House of Fraser, which was bailed out by Ashley’s Sports Direct International PLC (LON:SPD) earlier this summer, is consulting with staff at the Edinburgh, Hull and Swindon stores.

The Bath store is also at risk of closure, with the retailer claiming the local council is currently refusing to agree to new terms.

READ: Ashley's end-game uncertain after £90mln HoF acquisition

According to trade publication Drapers, Ashley had reportedly asked some landlords for six months rent-free with no commitment thereafter.

The billionaire had previously said that he plans to keep 80% of HoF’s 59 stores trading.

So far, Sports Direct has agreed on terms at 20 stores, including 15 which had been earmarked for closure under the previous company voluntary arrangement (CVA), saving an estimated 3,500 jobs.

“It’s great news that we’ve already rescued approximately half (48%) of the stores that were due to close in January under a CVA announced by the previous owners,” said the 54-year-old.

“We continue to hope to save at least 80% of stores. We’ve showed what we can achieve on the British high street when we work together with landlords.

Ashley added: “However, I am disappointed that in my opinion a small number of greedy landlords still refuse to be reasonable.

“I am calling on everybody to pull together, including landlords and local authorities in order to help to save as many House of Fraser stores and jobs as possible on the great British high street.”

Debenhams rises ahead of Capital Markets day

Over at another of Ashley’s high street department store investments, Debenhams welcomes a host of analysts to its revamped “store of the future” in Watford today (Monday).

The struggling retailer, in which Ashley has a 30% stake, will use the day trip to try to convince the City that it has brought in changes as it looks to halt falling profits.

Debenhams shares were up 1.3% to 1,000p, while Sports Direct was down 0.1% to 344.6p.

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