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The exterior of the King William Street branch of House of Fraser can be seen here in central London

Image House of Fraser lenders seek 'best and final' bids to save store chain

House of Fraser, the Chinese-owned United Kingdom department store chain, entered administration on Friday only to be swiftly snapped up by retailer Sports Direct for £90 million ($115 million, 100 million euros).

House of Fraser which was controlled by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower prior to the Sports Direct buyout announced its intention to enter administration.

Toys R Us, Maplin and BHS are just some of the household names to have shut up shop over the past 12 months, and New Look and Carpetright are among the big names resorting to company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), a form of insolvency used to close unprofitable stores.

Opened in Liverpool 1856, Lewis's was a much loved department store and its flagship home store served as the location of the world's first Christmas grotto in 1879, entitled "Christmas Fairyland". This nearly certainly will leave at least part of the pension fund in the hands of the Pension Protection Fund as well as the continued prospect of job losses but helps to keep the doors open at some House of Fraser locations including the iconic former Kendal's site on Deansgate, Manchester.

A spokesperson for House of Fraser said this was "only a temporary situation and will be resolved".

Sports Direct said in its statement that "for the year ended 28 January 2017. the House of Fraser group had gross assets of £946.3 million and made £14.7 million net profit".

The move came after House of Fraser, which employs 17,000 people directly and through contractors, on Friday went to court to seek protection from creditors.

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Bidders for the ailing department store chain were told to submit final offers on Thursday morning, with creditors working late into the night to thrash out a deal.

"In addition, it will be interesting to see how Sport's Direct's multichannel experience could help to turn around House of Fraser's department stores' ill-fate".

Chief executive Alex Williamson said: "We are hopeful that the current negotiations will shortly be concluded".

The acquisition by Sports Direct could preserve more stores than House of Fraser was able to commit to.

It has been well documented that since the withdrawal of the proposed Cenbest and C.Banner investment transaction House of Fraser has been in a race against time to secure sufficient funding to secure its future. This will benefit both House of Fraser and Flannels in the luxury sector.

Full details of Mr Ashley's plans for House of Fraser are yet to be announced.

Would-be suitors include tracksuit tycoon Mike Ashley and Philip Day, the billionaire owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

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