The future of beleaguered department store chain House of Fraser is still uncertain, even after Sports Direct bought it out of administration for £90 million.
Suppliers are waiting for payments, and many are now demanding that Mike Ashley – the businessman behind the purchase – ensure that their debts are paid in full. Ashley has also entered into discussions with landlords, with many employees worried for their positions if an agreement cannot be reached to keep rents down.
Suppliers are thought to be owed as much as £70 million altogether, which could create a problem for the new administration.
There have also been concerns raised about the future of the House of Fraser pensions fund, which is now protected under law by the government because the chain went into administration. The fund will not be under the control of Sports Direct, as it was not brought along with the package purchased by the firm.
Meanwhile, Ashley has pledged to “keep as many stores open as possible”, and to turn House of Fraser into the “Harrods of the high street”.
“Mr Ashley has said that relationships with brands and partners are vital to the future of House of Fraser, and ensuring that bills are settled with concessionaires will be critical to maintaining those relationships,” said a spokesperson for Phillip Day, who had also been interested in buying the chain. “The concessionaries have helped keep House of Fraser trading over the last year and the industry is now looking to Mr Ashley to do the right thing.”