Britain’s House of Fraser Sold Out by Chinese Owner

A shopper passes the entrance to a House of Fraser department store in London on Dec. 21. Photo: VCG
A shopper passes the entrance to a House of Fraser department store in London on Dec. 21. Photo: VCG

A company backed by real estate conglomerate Sanpower Group is selling the historic British department store operator House of Fraser, four years after purchasing the storied but struggling traditional retailer.

Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co. Ltd., which is 27% owned by Sanpower, announced the sale of its 51% stake in House of Fraser Group Ltd. in a filing to the Shanghai stock exchange on Wednesday, saying the move was part of a reorganization (link in Chinese) . It said the sale includes House of Fraser stores that are mostly located in Britain, but also one in its hometown of Nanjing and the city of Xuzhou.

It said it would sell the stake for cash to a Nanjing-based tourism company called Five Seasons, but did not disclose a price. The Shanghai-listed company said it had requested a continuation of a previous share-trading suspension in light of the announcement, but added it anticipates trading will resume within a month.

Sanpower made headlines in 2014 when paid 480 million pounds ($666 million) for 89% of the storied chain, which traces its history back to 1849 when it began as a store selling draperies. Sanpower said at the time of the purchase that it wanted to expand the chain beyond Britain.

In its latest annual report, House of Fraser called the 52 weeks ended Jan. 28, 2017 a “very challenging year,” citing Britain’s decision to leave the European Union along with a rapidly changing retail environment. The company reported its revenue grew slightly to 836 million pounds, from 826 million pounds a year earlier. Its net profit before exceptional items for the period grew to 9.5 million pounds, roughly triple the 3.1 million pounds a year earlier.

Sanpower also counts U.S. niche retailer Brookstone, Israeli healthcare service providers Natali and A.S. Nursing Welfare among its other overseas assets, according to its website. Last year the Chinese company also agreed to pay $820 million for U.S. biotech firm Dendreon Pharmaceuticals.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (

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