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Hamleys owner C.banner to buy 51% stake in House of Fraser

RBR Staff Writer Published 04 May 2018

C.banner International, the owner of Hamleys, has agreed to invest $195.04m to acquire a 51% stake in House of Fraser, the UK and Ireland department store firm.

The sale is conditional, that House of Fraser must close some of its stores under compulsory voluntary arrangement (CVA).

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of this June, subject to both shareholders and bondholders, approving the deal.

After the completion of the deal, existing shareholder, Nanjing Cenbest, part of the Sanpower Group, will remain a significant minority shareholder. 

As per the conditional agreement, House of Fraser will restructure its store portfolio. The reduction of the store portfolio will offer a platform for future growth.

The formal CVA proposal is expected to start in the beginning of June. Pending creditor approval, the store restructuring is expected to be completed in early next year.

House of Fraser chairman Frank Slevin said: “C.banner’s acquisition of 51% of House of Fraser, together with the new capital and restructuring, represents a step to securing House of Fraser’s long-term future.

"With the support of Nanjing Cenbest and Sanpower, Alex Williamson and his team have made substantial progress on our transformation journey. However, we need to go further and faster if we are to confront the seismic shifts in the retail industry.”

Slevin also stated that there is a need to create a leaner business that better serves the rapidly changing behaviour of customer base which increasingly shops channel agnostically. House of Fraser’s future will depend on creating the right portfolio of stores that are of the right size and are in the right locations.

In January, the company had asked its store landlords to cut rents, after a tough Christmas.

By the end of April, House of Fraser had decided to go for restructuring plan and KPMG was appointed to advice about the same.

Presently, House of Fraser is present across 59 locations in the UK and Ireland. The company has annual sales of £1.3bn and has a workforce of more than 6000 employees and 11,500 concession staff.

Image: House of Fraser China store opening. Photo: Courtesy of House of Fraser.