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Is there fresh hope for Shropshire's House of Fraser stores?

Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley has bought House of Fraser out of administration - raising hopes that there may be a future for the company's two Shropshire sites after all.

House of Fraser announced it is to close more than half its stores in the UK - including its Telford and Shrewsbury sites - earlier this summer, saying it ‘does not have a viable future’ unless the plans are approved.

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

But this week the company called in the administrators, and Ashley has now swooped in and bought the company. In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, his Sprots Direct comapny announced it has acquired all the UK stores, brand and stock.

The news offers hope to the 17,000-plus House of Fraser staff, many of whom were set to be axed next year. At present, it is unknown what the implications of this takeover will be.

When the store cloure plans were first announced, 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."

Mike Ashley has held an 11% stake in House of Fraser since 2014, and also owns 30% of its arch rival, Debenhams.- so it is a sector he knows well.

The 31 stores which had originally been lined up for closure before this takeover deal 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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