Chichester's House of Fraser is set to close

House of Fraser, Chichester. Pic: Derek Martin
House of Fraser, Chichester. Pic: Derek Martin

Chichester's House of Fraser store has been named as one of 31 stores the company plans to close.

The move is expected to affect up to 2,000 employees and a further 4,000 brand and concession partners.

Making the announcement Alex Williamson, CEO of House of Fraser, said: “Today’s announcement is one of the most important in this company’s 169-year history. We, as a management team, have a responsibility to take necessary steps to ensure House of Fraser’s survival, which is why we are making these proposals.

“I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all my colleagues at House of Fraser for working tirelessly throughout this difficult period. We are fully commited to supporting those personally affected by the proposals.”

The corresponding statement described the move as a 'significant restructuring' and said: "Without which House of Fraser does not have a viable future."

It follows last month's announcement that a sale of the chain would see closures.

The statement added: "Currently, House of Fraser operates 59 leased stores across the UK and Ireland and its property portfolio is unsustainable in its current form."

It stated initial discussions with landlords and other key stakeholders have been held and that stores scheduled for closure will remain open until early in 2019.

The stores listed for closure are: Altrincham, Aylesbury, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Camberley, Cardiff, Carlisle, Chichester, Cirencester, Cwmbran, Darlington, Doncaster, Edinburgh Frasers, Epsom, Grimsby, High Wycombe, Hull, Leamington Spa, Lincoln, London Oxford Street, London King Willam Street, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Plymouth, Shrewsbury, Skipton, Swindon, Telford, Wolverhampton and Worcester.

In addition to the closures, both the Baker Street head office and the Granite House office in Glasgow are set to relocate to new locations.

A 17 day consultation period has now begun and House of Fraser will seek approval from its creditors on June 22 2018.

Commenting on the proposals, Frank Slevin, chairman of House of Fraser said: “The retail industry is undergoing fundamental change and House of Fraser urgently needs to adapt to this fast-changing landscape in order to give it a future and allow it to thrive. Our legacy store estate has created an unsustainable cost base, which without restructuring, presents an existential threat to the business. So whilst closing stores is a very difficult decision, especially given the length of relationship House of Fraser has with all its locations, there should be no doubt that it is absolutely necessary if we are to continue to trade and be competitive.

"We have had constructive dialogue with a number of key stakeholders to date, and we will continue this engagement over the next 17 days. Ultimately, it will be for individual creditors to decide how they will vote on the CVAs (Company Voluntary Arrangements). We believe the proposal has sought to find a solution that is fair for all parties, enabling us to secure vital new capital from C.banner.

"Our immediate focus is on our colleagues with whom we are communicating openly and supporting at this time.”

What do you think of the news? Email news@chiobserver.co.uk