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‘Well-known’ retailers in talks with Victoria Square owner about House of Fraser’s site


The House of Fraser, the anchor tenant at Victoria Square Shopping Centre

The House of Fraser, the anchor tenant at Victoria Square Shopping Centre

The House of Fraser, the anchor tenant at Victoria Square Shopping Centre

The German fund which owns Belfast's Victoria Square Shopping Centre has spoken to other "well-known" retailers about taking over the unit occupied by stricken chain House of Fraser, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Sports Direct, the new owner of House of Fraser, has said it will shut some of the chain's 59 stores as it negotiates with landlords all over the UK over possible rent reductions.

But Commerz Real, the owners of Victoria Square, said it had not had any contact with Sport Direct, which is led by Mike Ashley.

Sports Direct did not respond to requests for details on its plan for the 120,000 sq ft House of Fraser in Belfast, the anchor tenant at Victoria Square Shopping Centre.

A spokesman for Commerz Real said: "Since House of Fraser went into administration, we have not been contacted by Mike Ashley and hence are not in negotiations with him or representatives of him."

And he said that while House of Fraser had performed well in Victoria Square, its fund was run in the interests of its investors - suggesting it could welcome the opportunity to let it out to another tenant.

"As manager of the real-estate fund Hausinvest (volume: €13.6bn), we are the trustee for more than 800,000 private investors, and bear responsibility to their interests.

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"We have seen House of Fraser performing very well in Victoria Square and would like to continue this co-operation.

"But we are also experiencing growing interest in the rental space from other well-known market players. What is important to us is a solution that is in the best interest of the people of Belfast, the employees of House of Fraser and our investors."

Commerz Real would not give any detail on the identity of the retailers who have expressed interest in the site. The spokesman said: "It is simply too early to communicate any details. First we have to have clarity about House of Fraser. We have been very satisfied with their performance and would like to further co-operate with them."

Commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton, which manages lettings at Victoria Square, said it had no comment to make on the prospect of a new tenant at the House of Fraser unit.

Tycoon Mike Ashley bought House of Fraser out of administration for £90m earlier this month.

Talks with landlords have resulted in around seven House of Fraser branches being saved from closure, including one in London's Oxford Street.

However, there has been no confirmation about the fate of the Belfast store.

However, one industry insider said he believed the unit would be easily filled in the event of a decision to shut it down. He said that Victoria Square was considered a desirable retail location as it was built only 10 years ago.

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