No Real Winners as Logistics Firm Exercises a Lien on House of Fraser Stock

The inevitable row following the collapse of the House of Fraser (HoF) retail chain continues unabated. In a piece last month which detailed the sorry tale, the GMB union lambasted Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley when the minority shareholder purchased the assets of the business for £90 million, without taking responsibility for the previous owners debts. The deal followed an unsuccessful attempt by the majority shareholder, a subsidiary of Chinese retail giant Sanpower to sell off part of the HoF business to another Chinese group prior to the liquidation. The situation has left XPO Logistics with over £30 million unpaid for warehousing and transport services.

XPO has also come under fire from the union, presumably for allowing a debt of this magnitude to run up, despite all the signs that HoF were in trouble. Now XPO are sitting on stock which belongs to Sports Direct, doubtless exercising a lien for unpaid bills. This conflict is the target for the latest union rant as the expected news of redundancies were announced with some 300 jobs to go at XPO’s Milton Keynes facility when it closes on November 27. Alan Costello, GMB Organiser, said:

“GMB is disappointed by the fact that XPO and Sports Direct are clearly only interested in the stock in the warehouse. They couldn’t care less about our members or their livelihoods. This whole stand-off, during which our members have been left in limbo, has been about commodities, not people. Our members have been left by the wayside, while XPO and Sport Direct fight like rabid dogs over the bones of House of Fraser.”