Nov 18, 2021
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House of Fraser confirms London flagship closure as Oxford Street transformation continues

Nov 18, 2021

Frasers Group has confirmed what was largely assumed to be the case saying that its Oxford Street House of Fraser flagship is to close.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

The historic branch will shut in January with the confirmation coming a week after the landlord received planning permission to redevelop the building. The new plans will see partial demolition and rebuilding of the upper floors as they’re converted to offices, with a gym and pool in the basement. Retail will remain at ground level but it was clear that a big, traditional department store wasn’t part of the planning.

The owner of the building is Public Properties Establishment, which the German Conle family are believed to ultimately control and Frasers said they’d served notice to quit after receiving planning permission for the site.

Reports have suggested that HoF could occupy part of the building post-development, although with the works expected to take up to two years, and retail changing so fast, there’s no certainty of that.

A Frasers spokesperson said: “It is with regret that we have been served notice by the landlord to close House of Frasers, Oxford Street – following planning permission being granted to redevelop the site. Since acquiring [House of Fraser] in 2018, despite challenges faced, we have worked collaboratively with the landlord to keep the store trading three years longer than what was initially proposed by the previous owner.”

The company also warned that without business rates reform, retail could contract further: “If business rates were reviewed it would support the future of House of Fraser. Without this, further store closures are inevitable.”

It’s another sign of retail’s rapid transformation post-pandemic and while many would lament the loss of another Oxford Street department store, Jace Tyrrell, CEO of the New West End Company trade group said the reinvention of Oxford Street has to happen. “We need less retail and more of a mix,” he said. “That is the only way that Oxford Street can survive in the future. Offices will provide customers for retailers, food & beverage and leisure.”

It’s not only department stores like HoF and Debenhams that are shutting on the street with retailers including Next and Zara also having closed branches and other big names like Gap and Topshop exiting due to changes in their business models.

And while other leading retailers — such as Superdry and Mango — have opened significant flagships there, it’s clear that Oxford Street is likely to remain a work-in-progress for at least the next year as its rebirth is kick-started.

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