The massive rent bill which House of Fraser in Grimsby faces every week

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 9 Jun 2018

The massive rent bill saddling House of Fraser's Grimsby store has been revealed as part of a sale listing.

Despite the retailer's rescue plan to close 31 stores, announced on Friday, its prime Victoria Street unit in Grimsby remains on the market for almost £13m.

Its listing shows the struggling chain was having to meet an annual rent of £1m, or £19,000 per week, as part of a "sale-and-leaseback" agreement for its Grimsby store.

The massive figure sheds new light on the massive overheads House of Fraser is battling at its leased stores.

The 92,400sq ft store was one of a raft of directly-owned stores sold off by House of Fraser in 1999 to raise much-needed capital for the group.

But the sale came with a 40-year lease lock-in that added up to a massive multi-million pound national rent bill.

The House of Fraser store in Victoria Street, Grimsby (Image: Jon Corken)

The £986,423 Grimsby rent, revealed as part of a sale brochure marketed by KLM Retail, highlights the challenge ahead for any new retailer.

If, as expected, House of Fraser's creditors confirm Grimsby's closure, the retailer would need to negotiate a deal with its owner - believed to be a pension fund managed by Rockspring PIM - to relieve itself of its 40-year lease, 22 years early.

In the meantime, a huge question mark remains over what the future may hold for Grimsby's biggest retail unit.

No-one was available from North East Lincolnshire Council to comment today - but Hull Council's deputy leader Councillor Daren Hale said he was "confident" a new operator would emerge on the other side of the Humber.

And what is happening in Hull could pave the future for the large Grimsby store.

Grimsby MP Melanie Onn (Image: Rick Byrne)

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Hale said the store, another of the 31 earmarked for closure, might have to be subdivided and become mixed-use, but was a "prime" site.

It was an optimism shared by Lawrence Brown, partner at Grimsby-based Scotts Property.

Speaking on Thursday, he said the "void" left by House of Fraser could still be filled by another big chain, or alternatively split into smaller units.

But he said a fundamental change, a radical new look and diversification away from retail, was required in order to boost Grimsby's town centre and produced a "fit-for-purpose" High Street.

House of Fraser's announcement on Thursday also saw town leaders, including MP Melanie Onn and cabinet member of economy Councillor Peter Wheatley, join calls for the high street to be "re-purposed".

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