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Talks over Beatties future remain on knife edge

By Alex Ross | Wolverhampton | Business | Published:

The future of Beatties in Wolverhampton is on a knife edge as negotiations between its new owners and the overseas landlord consortium enter an advanced stage.

Beatties in Wolverhampton

Sources close to Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley say he wants to keep the 141-year-old department store open.

However, his property team is still deep in talks with the Danish consortium which owns the Beatties site.

It is understood that difficulties have arisen in discussions over the future of a 35-year lease of the site by the collapsed House of Fraser Ltd.

Twenty three years are left to run on the lease and the site owners face a drop in rent as part of a new deal with Sports Direct.

The Danish consortium set up the initial 35-year lease with House of Fraser Ltd in a sale-and-leaseback deal struck in 2006.

The group paid £47 million for the Victoria Street department store.

House of Fraser Ltd bought Beattes, which also had a store in Dudley, for £69.4m a year before.

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After the site was purchased by the consortium, parts of the building were sold and rented out.

The store's Gadsby's Art Shop was moved inside and its two-storey premises, beside the Townwell Fold passageway, was rented out.

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Two large warehouse and storage properties at the rear of the store, in Skinner Street, were also put up for sale.

The Wolverhampton shop was opened in 1887 by James Beattie and became the cornerstone of a 12-strong department store empire.

At its height in the 1980s and 1990s, the Wolverhampton store alone employed more than 800 people.

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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