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Mike Ashley attacks ‘greedy’ House of Fraser store landlords

Oliver Gill
House of Fraser was bought by Mike Ashley after it collapsed into administration - Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has launched a fresh attack on “greedy landlords” who refuse to accept his ­demands on renegotiated House of Fraser leases.

Announcing the closure of stores in Edinburgh, Hull and Swindon, Mr Ashley warned of further closures if landlords refused to agree new terms.

“I am calling on everybody to pull together, including landlords and local authorities, in order to help to save as many House of Fraser stores and jobs as possible,” Mr Ashley said.

The retail tycoon bought House of Fraser for £90 million in August after it went into administration. Mr Ashley previously vowed to keep most of the department store’s 59 sites open.

A total of 20 stores have now been “saved”, Mr Ashley said in a statement. Some 15 stores that had previously been earmarked for closure under a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) earlier this year will now remain open.

He said: “We continue to hope to save at least 80 per cent of stores. We’ve shown what we can achieve on the British high street when we work ­together with landlords. I would like to thank those landlords who have helped us to rescue approximately 3,500 jobs at the stores we have saved to date.

“However, I am disappointed that in my opinion a small number of greedy landlords still refuse to be reasonable.”

In August, Mr Ashley was criticised by landlord associations for warning that “time is running out” to keep stores open.

The British Property Federation said the Sports Direct owner cannot “cry ‘unfair’” when he doesn’t get what he wants.

Mr Ashley attracted praise from MP Frank Field, who previously said the Sports Direct boss could come out “smelling of roses” by taking charge of House of Fraser’s pension scheme.

A store in Mr Field’s Birkenhead constituency had been saved, something he said was “thanks to the positive discussions that have taken place” with the landlord.