Scottish Building Firm Gives Employees A Share In The Company

House of Fraser has settled a legal challenge from landlords over plans to close 31 of its 59 stores - including two in the North East - next year.

The agreement, the terms of which are confidential, removes one obstacle as the troubled department store seeks a rescue deal.

The company’s store closure programme was announced in June but was thrown off course when landlords issued a legal challenge, saying they were unfairly prejudiced by the process.

Creditors for House of Fraser approved the company voluntary arrangement (CVA), but landlords had started legal action filed in Scottish courts.

A spokesperson for the Joint Supervisors of the House of Fraser CVAs said: “The Joint Supervisors can confirm that there has been a settlement to the legal challenge to the House of Fraser CVAs.

“This commercial settlement has been reached to avoid the costs of litigation, and allows the companies to continue its investment process without the CVAs being subject to the risk of further legal proceedings.”

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, who has an 11% stake in the retailer, has previously been widely tipped as the most likely person to rescue the group.

The firm plans 31 store closures around the UK through the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which will also allow it to secure rent reductions on its remaining shops.

Closures will affect up to 2,000 House of Fraser staff and a further 4,000 across brands and concessions. Its stores in Middlesbrough and Darlington are among those that will shut.

House of Fraser is one of a number of high street stores to seek controversial CVAs amid a rise in closures and failures.

Retailers have been hammered by Brexit-fuelled inflation, soaring business rates and falling consumer confidence. Toys R Us and Maplin collapsed earlier this year, while the likes of Prezzo, Byron and Jamie’s Italian have shut restaurants and culled hundreds of jobs.

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