A row has broken out between Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct and Harrods over the closure of a House of Fraser department store in Milton Keynes.
Sports Direct, which promised to turn House of Fraser into the “Harrods of the high street”, is shutting the outlet in Milton Keynes shopping centre and blaming the Knightsbridge store for the resulting 172 job losses.
Mr Ashley, chief executive of Sports Direct, claims that he has offered to redevelop the House of Fraser in the Centre MK, or take only part of the store, but that Harrods, which has a legacy to the lease, has thwarted his efforts because it wants part of the store back for its new H Beauty concept.
Sports Direct said that because Harrods failed to accept its proposals “regrettably we have been left with no choice but to announce the closure of the store on January 31, causing a devastating number of redundancies”.
Harrods was bought by House of Fraser in 1959, which in turn was bought by Mohamed Fayed in 1985 before being separated into a private business in 1994. Harrods has a historical lease contract which means that if the Milton Keynes store becomes vacant the lease reverts to Harrods.