Sports Direct has criticised “greedy landlords” as the group conducts talks regarding the future of 59 stores of House of Fraser. The said group is owned by Mike Ashley.
Various branches of the department store chain which were scheduled to be shut down early next year have been granted a postponement following the negotiations of the new owners with the landlords.
However, the fate of some of its shops is still unclear. Today, Sports Direct said that “time is running out” to achieve agreements.
A spokesperson of the group stated: “Some landlords are being very collaborative in order to give us a chance at turning the business around, giving House of Fraser a lifeline and saving hundreds of jobs.”
He added: “However, some greedy landlords would rather see the stores close than help save the jobs of hundreds of people.”
Some agreements have already been finalised to keep the Plymouth, Darlington, and Oxford Street branches open. It is understood that the group has been aiming to reduce the prices of rents in order to keep the stores running and in some cases, it has also offered to pay a service charge and business rates but no rent.
The British Property Federation (BPF) serves as the representative of the landlords. It slammed Sports Direct for going public regarding the negotiations.
Melanie Leech, the Chief executive of BPF, stated: “What has been taking place is negotiations between House of Fraser and its landlords – a two-party process – where each party will have its own interests and one party simply can’t cry ‘unfair’ in the media when it doesn’t get what it wants.”
She added: “Many property owners are investing in and managing property on behalf of pensioners’ savings, and depend on occupiers being able to pay rent. The long-term health of our high streets also depends on this. There will be a range of factors to consider on a store-by-store basis but what property owners won’t be doing is simply leaving stores empty for the sake of it, that would be in no one’s interests.”
Earlier this month, the House of Fraser collapsed. It owes millions to its creditors. Sports Direct acquired the firm out of administration for a deal that was worth £90m. It promised to turn the company into the “Harrods of the high street.”