Harrods to open up in Milton Keynes House of Fraser store but 172 staff will lose their jobs
The House of Fraser store at centre:mk is to close next month with the loss of 172 jobs – and the owner is blaming Harrods.
Sports Direct boss and Newcastle United football club owner Mike Ashley bought the House of Fraser chain out of administration for £90m last year and announced plans to turn it into the 'Harrods of the High Street'.
But though he owns the HoFbusiness, he does not hold the lease of the actual store at centre:mk.
Through an historic contract, that still belongs to the previous House of Fraser owners - the Al Fayed family who run Harrods.
And world-famous Harrods have their own plans for the large centre:mk store. They announced last month that they intend to open up a new store in Milton Keynes to specifically for skincare and beauty products.
At the time Harrods did not reveal the location of the intended store, which will be known as H Beauty.
Today all became apparent as Sports Direct issued a statement claiming Harrods has “forced” them into closing the centre:mk House of Fraser store on January 31 next year.
Sports Direct say they had plans to redevelop the entire store but the Harrods leaseholders have thwarted them.
It is still not known how much of the store Harrods will take up or what will happen to the rest of it.
The Sports Direct statement reads: “Over the past fifteen months, we have been in negotiations with our landlords, Harrods / Michael Ward, in relation to House of Fraser Milton Keynes. We planned to redevelop and invest in the whole site.”
It adds: “However Harrods have now confirmed their own plans to take the House of Fraser store back, resulting in 172 job losses and a significant amount of vacant space. “We have made multiple offers to both stay and invest in the entire store, or alternatively to take the part of the store which will now be vacant. We are still yet to receive formal acceptance of our proposals, and Harrods are refusing to secure continuity of employment for the staff currently employed by HoF Milton Keynes.
The statement concludes: “Regrettably, we have been left with no choice but to announce the closure of the store on 31 January, causing a devastating number of redundancies...Hopefully Harrods / Michael Ward will now seriously consider our offers, and help to save jobs in the run up to Christmas.”
The MK Citizen is awaiting comment from Harrods. But a Harrods spokeswoman told The Times newspaper today: “This is about House of Fraser making the decision to close. Harrods has been in conversations with House of Fraser and the landlord to ensure the best outcome and build a successful business in the local area if they were to leave.”