Sports Direct, the new owner of department store chain, House of Fraser has issued a one-sentence statement to the Stock Market this evening announcing that it has dismissed its directors and senior management team.
No further detail was revealed other than to say that the move was made following calls for an investigation into the collapse of the retailer in August, which left suppliers and landlords millions of pounds out of pocket.
The statement simply said: “Following the collapse of House of Fraser on August 10 2018, and subsequent calls for an investigation into the circumstances of that collapse, the Company today announces that we have dismissed the former Directors and senior management of House of Fraser.”
House of Fraser’s former chairman Frank Slevin had already left the business following its sale to Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct in a pre-pack deal on the same day of its collapse, but those directors subsequently dismissed have not yet been named.
Upon acquiring the business Ashley set about trying to rescue many of the 31 stores that had been slated for closure under the former management team, who were proposing a CVA that would allow them close more than half of its 59 stores.
Property company CBRE has been negotiating on behalf of Sports Direct and has agreed terms to keep a number of stores open including its London Oxford Street flagship and branches in Altrincham, Aylesbury, Camberley, Carlisle, Darlington, Doncaster, Grimsby, High Wycombe, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Plymouth, Skipton, Telford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Maidstone, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield.
The store’s website had to be taken off-line for a number of weeks, following a negotiation with logistics supplier XPO which downed tools in protest as unpaid bills racked up by the previous owner, Nanjing Cenbest, part of the Chinese Sanpower Group. Ashley has now agreed a deal with XPO, which manages two of its warehouses, and the website is once again operational.
House of Fraser’s collapse reverberated across the industry with many suppliers, including a string of fashion brands, left millions out of pocket. Polo Ralph Lauren was owned £9.4m and Kurt Geiger £4.8m, while other creditors included Phase Eight (£3.4m), Barbour (£3m), Mulberry (£2.4m), All Saints (£1.8m) and Giorgio Armani (£1.6m).