Hamleys set to become House of Fraser's majority owner - but stores could close

Money.
Money.

The owner of Hamleys has confirmed it is to take majority ownership of struggling department store chain House of Fraser, and will oversee a sweeping store closure programme.

C.banner, the Chinese retailer behind Hamleys, said it will buy a 51 per cent stake in House of Fraser from its parent Nanjing Cenbest. However, the sale is conditional on House of Fraser shutting stores. The chain

The 59-strong chain, which has 6,000 employees and 11,500 concession staff, will put forward a restructuring plan known as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which will require the approval of landlords and bondholders.

There are five House of Fraser stores in Yorkshire, with branches in Skipton, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre and Huddersfield.

Frank Slevin, chairman of House of Fraser, said C.banner’s acquisition was “a step to securing House of Fraser’s long-term future. C.banner’s investment is a vote of confidence in our prospects,” he said.

“We know that if we are to deliver a sustainable, long-term business then we need to make difficult decisions about our under-performing legacy stores.

“I am all too aware that this creates uncertainty for my colleagues in the business and so we will be transparent with them throughout the process.”

House of Fraser’s troubles came to the fore in January after it suffered a drop in sales over Christmas and started talking to landlords about reducing the size of its property portfolio.