Fringe Box



Closing Down Signs Suddenly Appear at House of Fraser – Store to Close in September

Published on: 1 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 4 Aug, 2023

The front of the House of Fraser store on Guildford High Street this evening. The closing-down signs were put up this afternoon and fill the windows

By Martin Giles

House of Fraser, the last surviving department store in Guildford, has announced without warning that it will close in September.

One shopper from Woking told The Dragon: “Assistants started putting up the closing down notices while I was shopping there.

“One assistant told me that they had been warned a couple of days ago.”

The closing down signs completely fill the windows, front and back.

The rear of the store in North Street.

The House of Fraser website makes no mention of the closure but there have been signs that the store was in trouble for some years as retail patterns have changed with the continuing challenge of online selling.

The household name shopping chain entered administration in August 2018. Mike Ashley, who owned Sports Direct, agreed to buy all House of Fraser’s UK stores, the House of Fraser brand, and all of the stock in the business for just £90 million in cash. House of Fraser has almost halved in size from 59 stores to 31 since.

The Guardian reported on Thursday (July 27) that the owner of House of Fraser had said it could close more stores, after shutting eight in the past year and declaring “the department store globally is broken”.

Smaller signs state that the store will close in September but no date is specified.

Michael Murray, the chief executive of Mike Ashley’s retail empire Frasers, said its department store portfolio was “continually under review” and some outlets were “still too big”. “We have to find solutions for the excess space,” he said.

Murray said that historically stores would have been 150,000 sq ft or larger, which was now “too big” and meant that in the past they “didn’t have the investment” they needed. The group now wants stores of about 50,000 sq ft or smaller.

No announcement has been made on the House of Fraser website.

There have been regular rumours that it was intended to convert the upper floors of the Guildford High Street store into residential units and the lower floors into smaller retail units. but no definite news has yet appeared.

House of Fraser, Guildford was refitted and relaunched in 2000. It was previously known as Army & Navy, and before that Harvey’s. The store includes the Jellicoe Heritage Roof Garden, a water garden designed and installed by the late Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe in 1958. It has a grade II listing from English Heritage.

See also:

Hint of Plan to Turn House of Fraser Store Into High Street Hotel

Ashley Puts Guildford’s Giant House Of Fraser Building Up For Let

Out of Court Settlement Reprieves House of Fraser in Guildford

Share This Post

Responses to Closing Down Signs Suddenly Appear at House of Fraser – Store to Close in September

  1. James Heaphy Reply

    August 2, 2023 at 9:45 am

    No surprise here, given the complete lack of ambition or plan for the revitalisation and development of Guildford town centre.

    Well done to all of those who foamed at the mouth and objected to the North Street development, who in doing so put off any business remotely interested in investing in our town.

    Soon you can all happily drive into a complete retail wasteland, with nothing to entice visitors to the town, and nothing to do. But at least all the empty shops and derelict buildings will only be five storeys high, so that’s all good.

    Come on the Liberal Democrats, surprise us with the execution of a well-thought-out plan for our town, or will it just be more of the same “blah, blah, blah” and fiddling while Rome burns?

    • Ian Nicholson Reply

      August 3, 2023 at 11:50 am

      I agree – there has to be vision and energy for the town centre. Lots of affordable flats for professionals and young couples with free money to spend in the cafes, bars and restaurants.

      Leapale Lane was going to be developed 40 years ago and is still there. the moans and groans at every development idea are so depressing. Leave the High Street/ Castle/ Riverside quaint and cobbled as its Guildford’s USP but build ambitiously around it. otherwise the town centre will die ( even more)

  2. Keith Francis Reply

    August 2, 2023 at 10:39 am

    Harvey’s, mentioned in the article, formed an arcade which was a walkway between the High Street and North Street. Didn’t Mr Williamson a former Guildford Remembrancer have his antique shop there?

    The connection is that his daughters Mary and Cornelia taught my father shorthand, book-keeping and typing at the old Guildford Technical College which in those days he had to learn to get an office job. He then went back for a teaching diploma and taught others. He cycled to and from Woking!

    I have some photographs of the Williamsons which my late father took as my parents went for “tennis soirees” at their home.

    • Anne Avory Reply

      August 2, 2023 at 4:28 pm

      This is so sad, House of Fraser was one of my main reasons for visiting Guilford. When it was taken over, they tried to turn it into a bargain store, and has lost all its style and elegance. Guildford High Street is beautiful but some tacky shops with horrible signage are being allowed to open. Lower standards are killing our high streets.

  3. David Smith Reply

    August 2, 2023 at 2:53 pm

    Really sad to see the downfall of this shop, I remember the slightly tatty but charming Army and Navy store with the underground coffee shop near the High Street end.

    My worry is we are left with a completely unlettable building – I hope the landlord will advise of their plans soon.

  4. Ross Connell Reply

    August 2, 2023 at 4:20 pm

    With Debenhams gone and HoF to close in September what next? Marks and Spencer? M&S has larger stores relatively nearby in Camberley and Brooklands as options and both have free parking.

  5. Anna Windebank Reply

    August 3, 2023 at 12:22 am

    I love department stores. This is the saddest news; I really fear for our High Street.

  6. Blake Bowden Reply

    August 3, 2023 at 8:03 am

    The writing has been on the wall for House of Fraser Guildford for some time. The store lacked investment and has been looking tired and dated.

    The council has done nothing in decades to rejuvenate and reinvigorate the town centre. Parking charges are extortionate and business rates make High Street stores unviable when competing against online.

  7. Neil durrant Reply

    August 3, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Hi does any any one no what is happening to game. Because thay closedown Woking and Guildford game and put it in house of Fraser Guildford?

  8. Frank Emery Reply

    August 4, 2023 at 11:47 am

    Rumours have it, that a better deal was offered to the landlord, any news on that front? This came from an employee at House of Fraser.

    Editor’s response: we are actively investigating.

  9. M Durant Reply

    August 4, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    Sad, another landmark down the drain, also difficult building to turn into flats due to the long corridors like Debenhams, expensive to restructure.

    Areas with no shops and no banks tend to have much higher crime rates and it is a nuisance to buy clothes online, they never fit and you have to go back and forth by car to send them back from a drop off point that is not near you.

    Anyway plenty of coffee shops both in Guildford e Godalming there used to be lots of them in the 18th century, we have really come full circle.

  10. Chris Stanton Reply

    August 4, 2023 at 5:23 pm

    This morning I walked from G Live to the River, noting a number of ‘To Let’ signs in the Upper and lower High Street, the Closing Down signs at House of Fraser, the cardboard ‘bedroom’ in a doorway across the High Street and two newly-smashed public benches by the pedestrian crossing to the Town Bridge. Welcome to Guildford!

    It brought to mind something I heard the retailer (Lord) Stuart Rose say three years ago, in an interview with the BBC’s ‘Today’:

    “Make the High Street attractive and the people will come.”

    In Guildford that message appears to have fallen on deaf ears . . .

  11. Blake Bowden Reply

    August 5, 2023 at 8:19 am

    The writing has been on the wall for House of Fraser Guildford for some time.

    The store lacked investment and has been looking tired and dated.

    The council has done nothing in decades to rejuvenate and reinvigorate the town centre. Parking charges are extortionate and business rates make High Street stores unviable when competing against online.

  12. Guy Beckington Reply

    August 5, 2023 at 2:56 pm

    Guildford town centre is perfect if you like to visit coffee shops, computer repair shops, charity shops and chain restaurants.

    What an epic decline.

  13. Roger Main Reply

    August 8, 2023 at 5:20 pm

    What ever the plans for this store, I do hope that the developer will get the full support from the counci and not experience the delays I had when developing Debenhams in 2000.

    Or the current developer at the Debenhams site, the objections were unbelievable.

    The site lends it self to retail on a smaller scale and residential accommodation, and of course affordable accommodation.

    Good luck to the developer.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *