Mike Ashley, the owner of Sports Direct, has launched a new attack on the “greedy landlords” of the House of Fraser who refuse to accept his demands on the renegotiated leases of the firm.
Ashley announced the closure of stores located in Hull, Swindon, and Edinburgh. He warned of more closures once the landlords refused to agree on the new terms.
The retail tycoon stated: “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.”
Last August, Ashley acquired House of Fraser for a deal that was worth £90 million after the company went into administration. He previously promised to keep most of the 59 sites of the department store open.
in a statement, Ashley said that a total of 20 stores have now been “saved.” He also said that some of the 15 stores that had previously been identified for closure under a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) that was initiated earlier this year will now remain open.
He stated: “We continue to hope to save at least 80 per cent of stores. We’ve shown what we can achieve on the British high street when we work together with landlords. I would like to thank those landlords who have helped us to rescue approximately 3,500 jobs at the stores we have saved to date.”
He added: “However, I am disappointed that in my opinion a small number of greedy landlords still refuse to be reasonable.”
Last month, Ashley was criticised by some landlord associations for his warning that “time is running out” to keep the stores open.
The British Property Federation said that the Sports Direct boss cannot “cry ‘unfair’” when he fails to get what he wants.
Ashley, however, attracted praise from MP Frank Field, who previously said that the Sports Direct boss could come out “smelling of roses” by taking charge of the pension scheme of House of Fraser.
A store in the Birkenhead constituency of Field had been saved, something he stated was “thanks to the positive discussions that have taken place” with the landlords.