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No last-gasp reprieve for county's House of Fraser stores

Retail giant House of Fraser is to close more than half its stores in the UK - including its two flagship sites in Shropshire - saying it ‘does not have a viable future’ unless the plans are approved.

Shropshire’s two branches, in Telford and Shrewsbury, are among the 31 stores on the list qwhich has now been approved for closure by investors, with House of Fraser aiming to cut around 6,000 jobs to stave off its current cash crisis. The two county stores will close next year, leaving more than 230 people out of work.

It comes after the company announce plans to seek a Company Voluntary Arrangement and avoid falling into administration.

In addition to its Chinese shareholder taking a 51% stake and injecting millions in new funding, the company plans to shut the stores across its UK and Ireland network by early next year, and relocate its main offices.

The company’s roots can be traced back to 1849, and even its flagship store on Oxford Street in London is facing the axe.

The closure plans needed to secure 75% support in a vote among creditors and landlords on June 22, and achieved the target.

Frank Slevin, chairman of House of Fraser, said: "The retail industry is undergoing fundamental change and House of Fraser urgently needs to adapt to this fast-changing landscape in order to give it a future and allow it to thrive.

"Our legacy store estate has created an unsustainable cost base, which without restructuring, presents an existential threat to the business.

"So whilst closing stores is a very difficult decision, especially given the length of relationship House of Fraser has with all its locations, there should be no doubt that it is absolutely necessary if we are to continue to trade and be competitive."

Alex Williamson, chief executive of House of Fraser, added: "Today’s announcement is one of the most important in this company’s 169-year history. We, as a management team, have a responsibility to take necessary steps to ensure House of Fraser’s survival, which is why we are making these proposals.

"I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all my colleagues at House of Fraser for working tirelessly throughout this difficult period. We are fully committed to supporting those personally affected by the proposals."

The 31 stores lined up for closure are:

Altrincham, Aylesbury, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Camberley, Cardiff, Carlisle, Chichester, Cirencester, Cwmbran, Darlington, Doncaster, Edinburgh Frasers, Epsom, Grimsby, High Wycombe, Hull, Leamington Spa, Lincoln, London Oxford Street, London King William Street, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Plymouth, Shrewsbury, Skipton, Swindon, Telford, Wolverhampton, Worcester.

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