Ashley pledges to pull his brands out of intu centres in House of Fraser row

Mike Ashley Sports Direct
Mike Ashley

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has said he will pull all of his brands out of intu centres after he failed to agree new lease terms on the four House of Fraser stores based in the shopping centre operator’s properties.

Ashley told The Sunday Times he will close 17 stores, including branches of Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Flannels, USC and Evans Cycles, as soon as break clauses allow or leases expires. This is expected to be on average in around 18 months.

He was incensed not to have been able to agree lease agreements on four House of Fraser stores based in Lakeside in Essex, Metrocentre in Gateshead, as well as Norwich and Nottingham, which will now all close in the new year. The retail tycoon said the move will cost intu £25m a year in lost rent and services charges.

“Intu has demonstrated it is unwilling to help retailers save stores and jobs,” Ashley told the newspaper. “It is unrealistic for Intu to continue to enjoy a long-term relationship with our retail businesses.”

Ashley hired property firm CBRE to renegotiate leases on House of Fraser’s 59 stores when he acquired the business out of administration in August. He vowed to keep as many stores open as possible (up to 47 he believed) and has so far saved 23. However a number are due to close, include the four intu stores along with branches in Cirencester, Hull, Swindon, Edinburgh, Chichester and the landmark Kendals store in Manchester.