Lomond Shores looks on anxiously as Ashley gets his feet under the table

The Lomond Shores complex and new owner Mike Ashley.

By Bill Heaney

Sports Direct, which bought the beleaguered high street chain – it includes Jenners at Lomond Shores in Balloch, Loch Lomondside – for £90m in August, has sacked the former top team amid calls for an investigation into the company’s spiral into administration.

Owner Mike Ashley was joined in his calls for an insolvency service probe into the cause of the collapse last month by the boss of Tea Terrace, a major supplier to the store.

Ehab Shouly told the Sunday Times that House of Fraser bosses withheld vital information about the company in the lead up to its failure.

One source close to the matter said that there are a number of similar suppliers which support the new owner’s calls for an investigation.

Meanwhile, a number of House of Fraser brands are to be axed as part of a strategy rethink by new owners Sports Direct, it has been reported.

Sources told fashion publication Drapers that brands such as Linea, Biba, Issa, Label Lab and Criminal Denim will be removed from the shelves.

This is in line with Mike Ashley’s strategy of turning the troubled department store into the “Harrods of the High Street”.

Sports Direct bought House of Fraser for £90m in 10 August after the 169-year old department store ran into troubles stemming from pressure from online retailers, poor management, and too many stores.

Earlier in June, before the administration, House of Fraser told Drapers it would focus on the “best selection” of contemporary brands and exclusivity to offer a USP to customers who were turning elsewhere.

Sports Direct caused outrage among customers after it said in August that it would not offer a refund for goods that were ordered online but have not been delivered since the House of Fraser was bought by Sports direct last month.

Sports Direct said customers should “contact the administrators” – EY – to claim their cash back, meaning there would be a long wait and little chance of actually obtaining a refund.

EY said: “Customers can submit a claim against the HF Stores Realisations Limited (formerly House of Fraser (Stores) Limited) for the refund.

“However, this will be treated as an unsecured creditor claim and unfortunately they will only receive a very modest recovery against the amount claimed.”

Recently, dismay was expressed here in West Dunbartonshire by many people when it was announced that the Christmas lights event at Lomond Shores would not take place this year.

Allegedly, this decision was made on health and safety grounds because last year’s attendance of around 30,000 people was too many to guarantee their safety.

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