Mike Ashley vows to keep 80% of House of Fraser stores open

The retail tycoon plans to introduce more luxury brands at the department store, including Gucci and Prada

Caitlin Morrison@citycait
Tuesday 14 August 2018 07:53
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Death of the UK high street: Retailers gone since 2008

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has vowed to keep 80% of House of Fraser stores open, after buying the troubled department store out of administration last week.

The retailer had previously announced the closure of 31 out of its total 59 stores, but the new owner told the Sun that he will try to keep most of the branches open.

“In a year’s time you can hold my feet to the fire on that,” he said.

The Newcastle United owner also gave more details on his plans to make House of Fraser, which he calls ‘HoF’, the ‘Harrods of the high street’.

“In Harrods you get some exceptional services. What we would like to do is introduce a ‘concierge click and collect’ at House of Fraser,” he said.

“When you go online and say you want to collect goods in-store, you should be able to book a time, book a changing room and book a stylist.

“You get that kind of personal shopping service in a Harrods. There’s no reason why it couldn’t be rolled out nationally across House of Fraser.”

Mr Ashley added that “the biggest and most important thing House of Fraser is missing is luxury brands”, and highlighted Gucci, Prada, Stone Island and Mallet footwear as brands that could be added to the store’s offering.

“It is not taking away from House of Fraser, but adding to it,” he said.

“If you get the right product, it is not on the shelves for long.”

Mr Ashley already owns a luxury retailer in the form of Flannels, a chain of designer stores located mainly in the north of England, although there are plans for an Oxford Street branch.

He also said whole floors of larger House Fraser branches could be given to Flannels or Sports Direct.

House of Fraser collapsed into administration after struggling to stay on top of costs, admitting that it could no longer afford to pay rents on a number of its stores.

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