Questions over rescue bid for House of Fraser

Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley
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The pensions regulator is "monitoring" Sport's Direct's £90m rescue of high street brand House of Fraser.

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has vowed to keep as many House of Fraser stores open as possible following the rescue bid for the ailing retailer.

The tracksuit tycoon struck a deal to buy the firm out of administration on Friday, raising hopes for the future of thousands of staff.

But questions have been asked today about the pension schemes of the staff, which was not included in the deal and since the brand went into administration, now falls under the regulator's Pension Protection Fund, meaning the tax-payer will pick up the bulk of the cost.

In a stock market announcement, Sports Direct said it has acquired all 59 House of Fraser stores, the brand and all of the retailer’s stock. Some 17,000 staff have been informed that they will be transferred over from House of Fraser to Sports Direct.

However, doubt remains over the long-term future of jobs and whether Mr Ashley will shut underperforming stores as part of a restructuring programme.

The billionaire, who also owns Newcastle United, said that Sports Direct will “do our best to keep as many stores open as possible”.

Ashley has also faced calls to honour full payments to House of Fraser suppliers who may only get 3p for every £1 owed to them.