The agreement reached between Mike Ashley and Intu to safeguard the future of the House of Fraser MetroCentre store will have a positive impact on the prospects of its neighbours and the wider regional retail sector, according to a regional business insolvency expert.
That’s the view of Andrew Haslam, North East chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, after the announcement that the threat of the store closing in February has been averted.
As well as the direct impact of the store’s threatened closure, nearby store tenants could also have been significantly affected.
Andrew Haslam, who is also head of specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory LLP’s Newcastle office, says: “With good news in the retail sector very thin on the ground, this agreement will extremely welcome for both those directly employed at House of Fraser and the store owners and employees in the units surrounding them.
“One of the regular consequences of a major tenant disappearing from an anchor position in a shopping centre is the commercial problems it can lead to for nearby retailers, with the resulting drop in footfall quickly reducing their revenues and often causing their futures to come into question.”
Research by R3 found that the proportion of North East retail businesses with a raised risk of entering insolvency in the next 12 months currently stands at just over 40%, compared to 34% at the beginning of 2018.
Andrew Haslam continues: “While the retention of the House of Fraser’s MetroCentre store is excellent news in itself, no-one in the retail sector can afford to be complacent.
“All retailers need to be prepared to tackle any problems which arise as soon as they become apparent, especially in what is traditionally the quietest part of the year for them, as by doing so, they can retain access to the widest possible range of solutions for putting things back on an even keel.”