House of Fraser set to fall into administration

Shoppers outside House of Fraser

Shoppers outside House of Fraser

House of Fraser is appointing administrators after giving up the fight to save the business, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Sports Direct says it has bought all of the United Kingdom stores, its brand and all its stock.

The company said its proposed administrator, Ernst & Young, planned to keep the business trading while it attempts to arrange a sale.

It it not clear how many of its 59 shops or 17,000 staff employed by the chain and its concession holders would be affected.

House of Fraser has a store in the Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast city centre.

"Pursuant to the transaction, the group has acquired all of the United Kingdom stores of House of Fraser, the House of Fraser brand and all of the stock in the business".

However the retailer said "significant progress has been made" in reaching a sale of the group's business and assets. The administration is due to be arranged at a court hearing early on Friday morning. Stores were delaying opening until 11am, however.

The Chinese-owned department store group set out the race against time in a statement to the Luxembourg stock exchange, where its bonds are listed.

Chief executive Alex Williamson said: "We are hopeful that the current negotiations will shortly be concluded".

"An acquisition of the 169-year-old retail business will see House of Fraser regain stability, certainty and financial strength".

"In the two weeks since the Cenbest and C.banner transaction ceased, the directors have brought forward a number of potential buyers and the group's financial advisers have run a comprehensive M&A process to identify and then develop other third-party interest that has culminated in the senior secured creditors leading negotiations with parties at a critical pace".

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