House of Fraser boss and staff "shocked but so pleased" by closure u-turn
PUBLISHED: 15:24 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:34 23 January 2019
The manager of the saved House of Fraser in Norwich has said he is "absolutely delighted" the store will remain open.
John Higginbottom said that the news had not fully sunk in with the 300 members of staff that their jobs were safe, after it was announced in November that House of Fraser would be leaving Norwich’s intuChapelfield.
He said: “We heard first thing this morning from head office, but we don’t have many details further than that.
“We were on the count down to closing, with four Saturdays to go. We did start selling off the stock and doing the strip-down, but now the deliveries tap has been switched back on. We’ll be back to full stock within three or four weeks.”
The extraordinary U-turn came after owner Mike Ashley seemingly struck a deal with Chapelfield shopping centre owner Intu.
“When we first announced we were closing our switchboard was ringing off the hook with customers saying they were so sad to see us go,” Mr Higginbottom said.
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“We were inundated with emails. It’s lovely to know that our customers care so much and that we’re such a part of Norwich.”
Despite the news being bought about due to an alleged rent dispute between Mr Ashley’s Sport’s Direct team and intu, Mr Higginbottom said that Mr Ashley’s vision would provide House of Fraser with what it needs.
“It’s nice to be part of a bigger group and I’m certain there will be plans in place to get House of Fraser doing what it needs to do as a business,” Mr Higginbottom said.
“Mr Ashley has spoken about the reality of the retail world at the moment and I think that’s a breath of fresh air. I’m excited to see what we’ll do next.”
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The three other stores which were due to close along with Norwich’s House of Fraser have also been told they will remain open.
These outlets are in Nottingham, Lakeside in Essex and in Newcastle’s Metrocentre.
Mr Higginbottom added: “I think the staff are all shocked but so pleased. Fortunately for us many haven’t moved jobs so we’ve retained a lot of core staff, because people want to work as part of this team.”