Belfast Telegraph

Belfast city centre's House of Fraser safe as many branches face the axe

By Staff Reporter

Belfast's House of Fraser store has been spared the axe as it announced that 31 of 59 branches are to shut across the UK and Ireland as part of a rescue plan.

But it's not clear whether the store, which is the anchor retailer at the city's Victoria Square Shopping Centre, will be subject to a rent reduction as part of a new company voluntary arrangement.

The planned closures, which include its Oxford Street store, are the main plank of the CVA - a controversial insolvency procedure in vogue among struggling retailers.

If the CVA is approved by landlords, it will affect up to 2,000 House of Fraser staff and a further 4,000 across brands and concessions.

It said the shops earmarked for closure would remain open until early 2019.

The group said it also plans to relocate its Baker Street head office and the Granite House office in Glasgow to slash costs and "secure House of Fraser's future".

Alex Williamson, chief executive of House of Fraser, said the move was "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.

"We are fully committed to supporting those personally affected by the proposals."

House of Fraser said it has already informed staff set to be impacted by the plans, and was committed to "working with all those affected openly and with sensitivity over the months ahead".

As well as the store closures, House of Fraser's restructuring deal will also see the rents slashed for a further 10 stores.

Landlords, who must vote through the plan, have already expressed serious concerns about the proposals and met on Tuesday to discuss how to respond to House of Fraser.

Last month, lawyer and Arthur Cox finance partner Kieran McGarrigle said landlords were seeking advice.

Belfast Telegraph

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