Mike Ashley closes House of Fraser website in bitter payments dispute

Mike Ashley closes House of Fraser website in payments dispute

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley has moved to close the House of Fraser website amid an escalating warehouse dispute, just days after purchasing the venerable department store.

Customers had been complaining about missing and delayed deliveries following the chaos of the past few days where a number of fashion brands with outstanding debts have withdrawn their stock while negotiations continue over payment.

These problems have been exacerbated by a decision by warehouse operator XPO Logistics to temporarily close access to two warehouses dedicated to House of Fraser deliveries as it plays hardball in negotiations.

XPO is reportedly owed millions of pounds, prompting it to instruct staff to block access to vehicles attempting to collect stock for delivery. Sports Direct is adamant however that it will not honour debts owed to supplier from before last Friday, when it assumed ownership of the business.

In an effort to force the issue, some suppliers, believed to include fashion brand Karen Millen, Jigsaw and Whistles have now withdrawn unsold stock which was not party to the takeover agreement signed by Ashley.

Sports Direct is not required to settle up with suppliers left out of pocket but any souring of relations with key suppliers could jeopardise Ashley’s stated intent of keeping up to 47 of 59 stores open while building a ‘Harrods of the high street’ in a bid to attract more affluent shoppers.

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