Frasers Group’ boss Michael Murray has announced that House of Fraser could be getting rebranded, after taking the reigns of the business from his retail mogul father-law Mike Ashely.
Mr Murray, who is married to Ashley’s daughter Anna, is set to abandon his father-in-law’s winning formula of selling stock at heavily slashed prices, to shift the Frasers Group upmarket.
The 34-year-old has said that his vision for the retail giant could mean that House of Fraser disappears altogether from the high street.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Murray said that House of Fraser was a ‘broken business’ when it was first acquired.
He added: ‘We’ve completely changed the operating model. It was mostly concession, the stores were way too big, they were under-invested.
34-year-old Michael Murray has said that his vision for the retail giant could mean that house of Fraser disappears altogether from the high street
‘Our future vision is that House of Fraser will diminish and Frasers will grow.’
Mr Murray’s vision would see House of Fraser no longer operating as a department store, which could be a savvy decision following the collapse of Debenhams and the closure of some John Lewis branches.
More than 20 House of Fraser branches have also been closed down since Mike Asley first snatched up the business from the pits of administration.
New, smaller stores which are simply called ‘Frasers’ have opened in eight locations, with more opening in the pipeline.
Mr Murray is also working towards using existing House of Fraser stores to repurpose them into buildings running multiple businesses which could see Sports Direct on the top floors and Frasers on the lower levels.
Mr Murray said: ‘This allows the landlord to then give us the space at affordable rates. What we’re giving them is a solution for them, and a solution for us, because Sports Direct gets the space it requires and Frasers gets its representation on the high street.’
The retail bosses is also got ambitions to use spaces to sell house of Fraser’s own brands, further pulling away from the original business model.
In light of the the devastating effect on UK high streets as a result of inflation and high business rates, Mr Murray said that ‘retailing is genuinely a lot harder.
More than 20 House of Fraser branches have also been closed down since Mike Asley first snatched up the business from the pits of administration
The discount hardware and furnishings chain has been shutting its 400 UK stores over the past month after tumbling into administration in August
He added: ‘Only the strongest will survive and they will polarise. Anyone who is marginal in this environment is not good enough.’
Today, retail giant Wilko shut the doors of its last remaining high street shops for the final time after 93 years on the high street.
The discount hardware and furnishings chain has been shutting its 400 UK stores over the past month after tumbling into administration in August.
Store shelves have already become bare as it sells off its last remaining products in order to recover more cash to help repay outstanding debts.
It will bring to a close one of the largest high street failures in recent years, with almost all of Wilko’s 12,500 workers being made redundant.
Upmarket retailer John Lewis has also struggled in recent years with analysts conceding that the twin challenges of Covid and the cost of living bludgeoned the company’s chances of survival on the high street,
There has even been an 18 per cent decline in footfall in London’s iconic Oxford Street, following the scrapping of VAT-free shopping.
Industry chiefs have warned that the demise of Oxford Street could spell the end for all British high streets, which risk collapsing into ‘wastelands’ unless there are major regeneration efforts.
The Retail Sector Council, which is made up of members including the bosses of Boots, Sainsbury’s and Primark, told ministers that competition law needed to be reformed to support the industry.
Former Co-op chief Richard Pennycook, who is co-chairman of the council, said: ‘If we don’t incentivise regeneration, then these places are getting hollowed out.
‘What are we collectively going to do about that? The last five years in Chester, Northampton, pretty much any large town in the UK, this has been going on.’
The boss of upmarket department store Harvey Nichols reiterated calls to Rishi Sunak to act urgently over the issue, saying Britain’s retailers must not be allowed to ‘lose another summer’.
Earlier this year, it was found that British high streets were using fake shopfronts in a bid to appear less barren following a wave of closures sparked by the Covid pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.
‘The truth is, there’s not really an incentive from the Government,’ Mr Murray told the Telegraph.
He added: ‘We could be doing a lot more.’
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