Department store with 30 branches to close another location after boss reveals high street brand 'will diminish' | The Sun10/20/2023
A MAJOR retailer with 30 UK stores is shutting another branch in months after its boss warned the brand could disappear from the high street.
House of Fraser is pulling down the shutters on another unit after closing stores in Guildford and Solihull this year.
Shoppers were found rushing to the stores to pick up some last-minute closing down sale deals.
Now, the retailer has announced it is closing its branch in Lakeside Shopping Centre, Grays, Essex, in January 2024.
Staff at the branch were informed of the closure today.
A spokeswoman for Frasers Group said: "It is with regret that we announce House of Fraser Lakeside will be closing in January 2024.
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"We would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their hard work and dedication.
"Where possible, we are committed to finding new roles within the Group for staff."
It comes after Frasers Group chief executive, Michael Murray, described House of Fraser as a "broken business" and said it is likely to "diminish".
He added that the group's strategy was to break away from the traditional operating model of operating department stores.
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He told The Telegraph: "We’ve completely changed the operating model.
"It was mostly concession, the stores were way too big, they were under-invested.
"Our future vision is that House of Fraser will diminish and Frasers will grow."
Frasers Group has already started opening "new concept" stores as part of that vision.
In September, it cut the ribbon on the latest of its new department stores combining popular brands like Sports Direct and Game in Norwich.
There are plans to open two further sites in Blackpool and Sheffield.
It comes after the retailer closed a string of stores in 2023 already, including in Birmingham, Cardiff and Guildford.
Shoppers were rushing to closing down sales as the branches prepared to shut for good.
The chain was bought out by businessman Mike Ashley in 2018 as part of a deal which saved 17,000 jobs and 59 stores.
But a number of shops have closed since, with only 30 left in the UK.
House of Fraser isn't the only high street retailer struggling either.
Paperchase closed dozens of shops this spring after collapsing into administration. It saw 900 staff lose their jobs.
But the name will be relaunched before Christmas after Tesco bought the rights to the brand.
Meanwhile, M&Co, Cath Kidston and Wilko have all gone bust this year.
The high street has been hit hard in recent years as shoppers increasingly turn to online retail.
The trend was made worse during the coronavirus pandemic.
Data from the Centre for Retail Research reveals online shopping accounted for 19.2% of the retail market share in 2019 compared to 26.5% in 2022.
High inflation since 2022 has seen households' budgets squeezed too meaning they've got less expendable cash.
That, combined with high energy and wage costs, has seen a number of businesses forced to close stores.
But it's not all bad news as a number of retailers have been expanding amid the closures.
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Supermarket chain Iceland has been opening stores, with some under the Iceland Local brand.
Primark, Poundland and B&M have all been growing their portfolios too.
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