Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct is paying £95m for the Frasers building in Glasgow, with the aim of creating the “Harrods of the North”.
It was announced on Friday – two months after the tycoon bought House of Fraser (HoF) out of administration – that the freehold for the huge site was to be obtained through the HoF brand in a deal with Glasgow City Council.
Sports Direct said the iconic department store, on Buchanan Street, would continue to operate as Frasers once the agreement completes – expected in early 2020 – and that it would save 800 in-store jobs.
The announcement signalled some rare cheer for the high street following a torrid year for retailers that saw not only HoF collapse but also Toys R Us and Maplin.
It emerged on Thursday that Coast, the fashion retailer, had called in administrators while Patisserie Valerie has also added to the sense of gloom this week by warning it could fold without a significant injection of cash because of a black hole in its accounts.
A string of other big names have sought rescue deals as chains struggle amid a toxic mix of rising costs and caution among shoppers in the run-up to Brexit.
Sports Direct said: “The flagship store has a strong luxury brand presence including Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Prada and Gucci.
“This acquisition provides a fantastic base to create and build on the existing luxury offer in order to create the Harrods of the North.
“It is great for Glasgow and Scotland, demonstrating House of Fraser’s significant commitment to transforming the company. A home of luxury brands has been saved.”
Michael Murray, head of elevation for HoF, added: “We are overwhelmed and proud to own such an iconic destination.
“Acquiring the freehold enables us to elevate and invest in the store in order to partner with a broad range of luxury brands in future. This is fantastic news for all parties.”