Key investor pull-out leaves House of Fraser exposed Says e-Commerce Expert

The latest news that the troubled department store chain House of Fraser’s promised backer, Chinese investor C.banner, has pulled out of an urgent £70 million investment means the store’s ability to continue its restructuring plans and urgently update its website are in doubt.

This morning the parcel delivery comparison site ParcelHero said House of Fraser must adopt a digital-led approach or die, following a warning from credit rating agency Moody’s the store was technically in default. ParcelHero says the crisis that HoF now finds itself in clearly reflects the inability of older institutions to move as fast as modern e-commerce sites.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says: ‘In order to survive, House of Fraser needed a £70 million investment promised by its Chinese investor C.banner, or hope Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley (who already holds 11% of HoF shares) would make a much-needed loan. But apart from needing an urgent cash injection, the true heart of the problem for House of Fraser is outdated stores and an even more outmoded web site.’

Says David: ‘Our Special Report, released in May, Departing Department Stores, singled out House of Fraser for criticism because of its antiquated web integration. Ordering furniture such as most of its online sofa range involves leaving the main site altogether and linking to a ‘white label’ site operated not by House of Fraser, but, confusingly by a “rival”’ furniture site, A. Share & Sons site – best known for their ScS branded stores.

Observes David: ‘So clunky is the integration that Items placed in main site ‘bag’ do not appear in A. Share & Sons site ‘basket’ and vica versa; meaning it’s not even possible to buy clothes and furniture in the same transaction.’

Concludes David: ‘It is to be hoped House of Fraser resolves its funding issues successfully; but even if it does manage to secure funding, through Mike Ashley or even a possible merger with Debenhams; it must still close the 31 stores it plans to axe and drag its web functionality into the 21st century. Only then can HoF can offer the seamless brick and click multiplatform approach to sales that is essential for modern retailers.’