By guest author Ben Stevens from Retail Gazette
House of Fraser’s flagship Kendals store in Manchester has been saved from closure after new terms were agreed between the landlord and new owner Sports Direct.
In October a spokesperson for the department store confirmed, that the store was due to close on January 28 2019, despite the store not being one of the 31 stores earmarked for closure amid its initial CVA.
A representative said at the time: “We have suggested various options to the landlord that would have enabled us to save the store in Manchester. Sadly, these have been declined.”
Thanks to intervention from Manchester City Council, the retailer has now announced a U-turn on the closure which will mean 568 staff will keep their jobs.
“Today’s (December 3) announcement is fantastic news for the city and I am proud that the council has been able to play a constructive role in saving a real Manchester icon and hundreds of jobs,” Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said.
Mike Ashley, who bought the embattled department store out of administration for £90 million in August vowing at the time to save or 47 out of 59 stores, said: “This demonstrates that when landlords, local authorities and retailers work together the outcomes can be outstanding. When working together we can make a real difference to the high street.”
In September, Ashley agreed terms on 20 stores and has been operating the estate on short term licences which allow him to hand over the keys with just two months’ notice.
In October House of Fraser said that stores in Exeter and Shrewsbury are due to close in early 2019, leading to hundreds of job losses.
House of Frasers in Cirencester, Hull, Swindon, Edinburgh, and Chichester are also closing down.
Reports indicate that the retailer’s City of London store could also face closure in January.
To date, 22 House of Fraser stores have been saved from closure, saving an estimated 3500 jobs.