House of Fraser staff in Leamington angrily dismiss developer's claims that the business will close this year

They said that the store will open again soon, in line with Government guidelines

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 10:14 am
House of Fraser in Leamington.
House of Fraser in Leamington.

Staff at House of Fraser in Leamington have said they are not leaving their premises despite what developers have said.

We reported yesterday (Tuesday) that developers who want to take over the building have told Warwick District Council (WDC) planners they anticipate the business will vacate its premises in the second quarter of 2020.

House of Fraser's head office told us that no one was available for comment on the matter but local staff said the business will reopen on June 1, as per government guidelines.

Some staff are expected to go back earlier to make sure the store, which lies in the heart of the town and has been pivotal in the town's business scene, is ready for customers, with social distancing lines in place.

Staff said they were angry and the comments by the developers.

This offers hope to the town that the business will fight on in what is a difficult time for many companies.

Last year, COREM Investment Management put forward plans to bring a cinema, gym and office and retail space to the building, should House of Fraser close.

In a document to WDC, specialist planning and development consultants Quod requested to make a number of changes to the application on behalf of their clients COREM Investment Management – changes which have been agreed by district council planners.

These include the removal of the cinema and gym options.

Consultant James Beynon explained: “Since planning permission was granted in April 2019, there has been no demand for cinema or gym floorspace.

"There has, however, been genuine but limited interest in retail and office occupation, including the single occupation of first/second floors as office use.

“With House of Fraser anticipated to vacate in the second quarter of 2020, it is crucial that the meaningful reoccupation of the building at the earliest opportunity.”

The changes will see the basement gym replaced by retail units while the first-floor cinema space will now be devoted to offices.

Mr Beynon added: “The proposals seek to respond to current market demand.

"Without securing tenants, there is a significant risk that the building would remain vacant following the departure of House of Fraser.

In turn, this would have an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre in the long term.”