Rackhams in Altrincham is one of 31 House of Fraser stores set for closure under the terms of a rescue deal announced by the company this morning.
The announcement, described as one of the most important in the company’s 169-year history, had been feared but will still come as a bitter blow to the dozens employed at the Stamford Quarter branch.
The news is also another real setback for Altrincham town centre, with Rackhams a fixture of the high street for decades.
Frank Slevin, Chairman of House of Fraser, said: “The retail industry is undergoing fundamental change and House of Fraser urgently needs to adapt to this fast-changing landscape in order to give it a future and allow it to thrive.
“Our legacy store estate has created an unsustainable cost base, which without restructuring, presents an existential threat to the business. So whilst closing stores is a very difficult decision, especially given the length of relationship House of Fraser has with all its locations, there should be no doubt that it is absolutely necessary if we are to continue to trade and be competitive.”
House of Fraser said that without the closures, which will reduce the company’s estate to 28 stores, it would not have a “viable future” and that its property portfolio is “unsustainable in its current form”.
The rescue deal has involved it filing proposals for Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs). The company has held constructive initial discussions with landlords and other key stakeholders, and pending approval of the CVAs, it is anticipated that those stores scheduled for closure will shut their doors early in 2019.
A total of 6,000 jobs are under threat, including 2,000 House of Fraser staff and 4,000 brand and concession partners. Those impacted by the proposed changes have already been informed.
The consultation on the CVA proposal will take place over the next 17 days and House of Fraser will seek approval from its creditors on June 22nd.
Alex Williamson, CEO of House of Fraser, said: “Today’s announcement is one of the most important in this company’s 169-year history. We, as a management team, have a responsibility to take necessary steps to ensure House of Fraser’s survival, which is why we are making these proposals.
“I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all my colleagues at House of Fraser for working tirelessly throughout this difficult period. We are fully committed to supporting those personally affected by the proposals.”