Business Irish

Thursday 23 January 2020

Dundrum makes plan to deal with threat to House of Fraser store

Planning move allows for closure, downsizing or relocation of troubled chain

Dundrum Town Centre has drawn up plans to carve House of Fraser into two large shops as it readies itself for the possible closure of the troubled department store. Stock photo: PA
Dundrum Town Centre has drawn up plans to carve House of Fraser into two large shops as it readies itself for the possible closure of the troubled department store. Stock photo: PA
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Dundrum Town Centre has drawn up plans to carve House of Fraser into two large shops as it readies itself for the possible closure of the troubled department store.

The owners of the centre believe that a current restructuring of the retailer may impact upon House of Fraser's Irish store.

The centre outlined plans to split the unit into two to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, and sought exemption from planning permission for such a change.

It also highlighted the commercial sensitivities for potential new tenants around the project. A declaration of exemption was issued by the council in December.

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In a submission, consultants BMA Planning said the council "may be aware that House of Fraser is undergoing restructuring in the UK and this extends to their Dundrum store, which may need to close, downsize or relocate to another unit".

Therefore, the owners of the centre have "identified a layout involving two separate tenancies within the existing House of Fraser store".

The centre is owned by British property group Hammerson and Allianz Real Estate.

The plan would result in one unit over the two lower floors of the department store and a second unit over the two upper floors of House of Fraser.

The consultants said that the plan was similar to previous internal layout changes at Dundrum. They added: "However, given the scale, the commercial sensitivity and, in particular, the timing of the project, the prospective tenants require confirmation from DLRCC (the council) that the internal works to facilitate the sub-division are exempted development under the general exemption."

Hammerson and Sports Direct, owner of House of Fraser, did not respond to queries about the plan from the Sunday Independent.

Sports Direct bought House of Fraser in 2018 and to date, the Irish department store has escaped a cull of shops. However, before Christmas, Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley warned that more House of Fraser department stores would have to close in 2020.

In a conference call after results in August, Hammerson chief executive David Atkins said the company was "advancing plans for the repurposing of the department store space in Dundrum, which will drive an uplift in future income".

However, at the time, the property company did not elaborate on what this would entail.

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