WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

House of Fraser to close flagship Oxford Street store

Victoria branch survives closure programme

09 June, 2018 — By Richard Osley

ONE of Oxford Street’s retail big hitters, House of Fraser, is to close its flagship store.

The 169-year-old company announced on Wednesday that its West End shop, which opened in 1937, would be among 31 branches across the country to be shut down in a restructuring deal. More than 6,000 jobs with the retailer were said to be at risk.

House of Fraser chairman Frank Slevin said: “The retail industry is undergoing fundamental change and House of Fraser urgently needs to adapt to this fast-changing landscape in order to give it a future and allow it to thrive. Our legacy store estate has created an unsustainable cost base, which without restructuring presents an existential threat to the business.”

Chief executive Alex Williamson added: “A decision to close this number of stores is not done lightly. “This is really grim. It is a highly emotional, highly regrettable, situation that none of us either imagined or wanted to see happen, but there is simply no alternative.”

The company has held a spot in Oxford Street for decades as part of a row of department stores which includes John Lewis and, until two years ago, British Home Stores (BHS).

Its store in Victoria will remain open after the round of closures expected to take place early next year, while a head office property near Baker Street is also due to close.

Dave Gill, national officer at the shopworkers union Usdaw, said: “This is devastating news for House of Fraser employees. “We are receiving calls from loyal and long-serving staff who are extremely worried, including those who work in brand concessions and are not directly employed by House of Fraser.”

Richard Lim, chief executive of analysts Retail Economics, said: “Department stores are incredibly expensive to operate and the last few years have seen costs spiralling upwards from business rates, rents and National Living Wage. “These traditional retail business models that hold huge fixed costs are simply becoming unsustainable for some retailers.”

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