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House of Fraser says its “business as usual” as Chinese owner prepares to sell stake

By Vivian Hendriksz

7 Mar 2018

Business |UPDATE

London - House of Fraser has confirmed that Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co. in advances discussions to offload a large chunk of its 89 percent stake to another Chinese firm. However, the struggling department store chain stresses the sale will not affect its operations as it is “business as usual.”

On Tuesday morning a Chinese stock exchange filing indicated that Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co., also known as Nanjing Cenbest, was set to sell a 51 percent stake in House of Fraser to tourism development company Wuji Wenhua. The Chinese owner will retain a 38 percent stake in House of Fraser, with billionaire Mike Ashley owning the remaining 11 percent.

House of Fraser noted that the change of ownership will not impact its business of effect its bondholders. “This will have no impact on the day-to-day operations or strategic development of the House of Fraser business in the UK and Ireland. It is business as usual,” a spokeswoman for HoF said in a statement.

a statement to the press Nanjing Cenbest added: “We welcome the potential new collaboration between Nanjing Cenbest and Wuji Wenhua. And although Nanjing Cenbest and Wuji Wenhua are still in discussions, we believe that Wuji Wenhua can be a strong strategic equity partner as they possess vast experience in the leisure sector and have access to a large network of travelers. This additional partnership will help House of Fraser to further internationalise its brand to reach out to an increasingly large international consumer base.”

The Chinese company added that it was “very proud” of its continued stake in the 169-year-old House of Fraser and will continue to work with the senior team in place at the department store chain to help transform the company into one of the “new commerce” leaders. House of Fraser’s recently appointed chief executive officer Alex Williamson has been busy creating a leading management team to oversee HoF since he took on the role in August. He recently hired Fenwick’s former managing director, David Walker-Smith, as its chief product and trading officer.

Photo: House of Fraser