By Sofie Willmott
To give House of Fraser the best chance of survival, Sports Direct [which has purchased House of Fraser for £90m] and its owner Mike Ashley must make drastic changes to both its product proposition and store environment to entice shoppers back. This will require significant investment—something which the chain has been starved of in recent years.
Mike Ashley could harness his mixed portfolio of retail businesses to transform House of Fraser, combining his more premium fascias Agent Provocateur and Flannels, which sells brands like Burberry London, Fendi, and Sophia Webster, to create a more upmarket department store. Although very few of House of Fraser’s own brands remain, those such as Issa and Biba could be incorporated into this new format.
Given the success of luxury department stores like Selfridges and Harrods, Ashley may attempt to replicate their model using House of Fraser’s locations. However, it is questionable whether the high end price points would appeal nationwide, particularly given that London-based department store retailers have benefited from tourism.
Sofie Willmott is a senior retail analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData.