Sports Direct in spat with Harrods over HoF's Milton Keynes closure
today Dec 12, 2019
A row has broken out over the reasons for the planned closure early next year of the House of Fraser store in Milton Keynes.
Sports Direct is closing the department store and is blaming upscale store Harrods for the decision. However, Harrods has hit back saying that it’s Sport Direct’s decision to close the HoF location.
A report in The Times said that the planned closure of the store in the Centre MK mall comes after Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley said he’s offered to redevelop it or take only part of the lease but that Harrods, "which has a legacy to the lease," has frustrated the plan.
Harrods and House of Fraser have a connection going back many years as the Knightsbridge store used to be part of the HoF group until it was spun off. But clearly that spin-off created some issues. While these may not have been a problem in the past, there have been suggestions that with Harrods now planning the launch of a chain of H Beauty premium stores, the spin-off has come back to haunt HoF.
The newspaper quoted Sports Direct saying that as Harrods hadn’t accepted its proposals “regrettably we have been left with no choice but to announce the closure of the store on January 31, causing a devastating number of redundancies”.
Harrods became part of HoF in 1959 with the parent firm being acquired by Mohamed Fayed in 1985. He hived off Harrods into a private company in 1994. But the historic lease contract Harrods has for the Centre MK store means that if it becomes vacant, the lease reverts to Harrods.
We have to assume that any redevelopment plans — whether for a downsizing, a conversion to Sports Direct’s planned Frasers chain or anything else — would trigger that reversion.
But a Harrods spokeswoman told The Times: “This is about House of Fraser making the decision to close. Harrods has been in conversations with House of Fraser and the landlord to ensure the best outcome and build a successful business in the local area if they were to leave.”
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