Fresh hope for Chichester’s House of Fraser

House of Fraser in Chichester is earmarked for closure
House of Fraser in Chichester is earmarked for closure

The landlord of House of Fraser in West Street has said he is hopeful the department store may stay open following a buy-out by Sports Direct.

The store had named as one of 31 to be closed as part of a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) but the chain subsequently went into administration and was purchased by Sports Direct.

Harry Foster from Savills Investment Management said the future of the city’s store was uncertain but he did not believe Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley intended to close as many shops as previously suggested.

He said: “I don’t think he’ll continue with it [the CVA] as it is at the moment.

“He’s saying he wants to keep as many stores as possible. I would have thought that makes the possibility of it remaining House of Fraser higher that it was.”

Given Mr Ashley’s investment to date in department store chains, Mr Foster said the situation was ‘potentially very positive’ for the Chichester store, which is still profitable.

He added that he would continue to work on other ‘options’ for the site but he expected to know ‘in the next couple of weeks’ if Mr Ashley intended to continue trading at the store.

“The point comes for us if he says ‘yes, I want to continue trading but I want to halve the rent,” he said.

“I’d probably say use less of the space, maybe the ground floor and maybe the first floor will go to residential or something like that.

“That’s the kind of conversation you’re likely to get happening.”

READ MORE: Shoppers in Chichester react to House of Fraser closure

Sports Direct bought House of Fraser for £90million after the department store went into administration last week.

It followed an bid to stabilise the company’s finances with a CVA, proposing the closure of 31 stores nationwide, including Chichester’s.

Mr Foster said the chain had likely chosen to keep its top 30 most profitable stores but Chichester could well have been the 33rd or another store just under the line.

He said: “It always seemed a shame that the process was being abused a bit because I don’t think a CVA was ever intended so that retailers can walk away from profitable stores and put jobs at risk.”

READ MORE: More than 160 jobs at Chichester’s House of Fraser are at risk

READ MORE: House of Fraser closure ‘a sad day for the city’