Mike Ashley threatens to exit all Intu stores inHoF row
Intu’s failure to reach agreement with Mike Ashley's Sports Direct in order to keep open the House of Fraser stores in Intu’s malls could lead to the retail tycoon closing all of the stores he controls in Intu properties. That would include the Sports Direct chain as well as Flannels and USC, plus the Evans Cycles chain that he has only just acquired.
A report at the weekend said that he's vowed to close all 17 of the shops because Intu won't come to terms with him over four House of Fraser locations.
The Sunday Times reported that the 17 shops could close when their leases expire or when they reach a break clause in their agreements.
Ashley told the newspaper that the move could cost the malls operator more than £25 million a year in lost rent and service charges. “Intu has demonstrated it is unwilling to help retailers save stores and jobs,” he said, adding that “it is unrealistic for Intu to continue to enjoy a long-term relationship with our retail businesses.”
The news comes little more than a week after it was revealed that Ashley and Intu had failed to reach an agreement over the House of Fraser locations at mega-malls Lakeside in Essex and Metrocentre in Gateshead, plus the stores in Norwich and Nottingham, and that they would close next year.
Sports Direct said it had taken a flexible approach in the negotiations. However, it’s unclear how much flexibility Intu has, given that it's currently the subject of a £2.8 billion takeover approach from a consortium led by its biggest shareholder and deputy chairman John Whittaker. The deadline for confirmation of a bid has been extended to November 30, which is the third extension so far.
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