Once considered as the flagship store which would revive Wycombe’s fortunes, House of Fraser’s future appears uncertain as ground-breaking office plans are revealed for Eden Shopping Centre.

House of Fraser is the High Wycombe shopping centre’s biggest store – but plans by commercial property consultants Chandler Garvey suggest that the popular shop could be replaced with offices.

The department store was earmarked for closure in 2018 when House of Fraser fell into administration, but high street mogul and Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley bought the company in a pre-pack deal hours later for £90 million, vowing to keep 80 per cent of stores open.

At the time, store management said the shop would be staying open and would remain “fully operational”. If the store closed, Wycombe District Council would have been faced with rent losses of £80,000 a year.

But there is now a question mark over the store’s future, with a glossy brochure on Chandler Garvey’s website detailing plans for a project called “Eden 25” – a “major” office development that they say will provide a “double height reception, glass atrium and an extensive roof terrace”.

Bucks Free Press:

Picture courtesy of Chandler Garvey

The leaflet suggests the second and third floors of the House of Fraser building would be office space, arranged around the glass atrium.

There is no mention of what might happen to the department store and how it fits in with the potential office development.

Chandler Garvey’s website says they are “delighted” to have been “instructed by the landlords of the Eden Shopping Centre” to market a new 50,000 sq ft headquarters office building.

It goes on: “Eden 25 is to be the re-purposed House of Fraser Department Store in the heart of High Wycombe and the Eden Shopping Centre.”

“Eden 25 will be so much more than just another smart office building. It will distinguish itself through the creative re-use of the House of Fraser building and the huge contribution it will make to the High Wycombe town centre and the Buckinghamshire property market.”

Bucks Free Press:

The atrium - Picture courtesy of Chandler Garvey

When pressed on the plans, House of Fraser did not respond, but a spokesman for Eden Shopping Centre said it was “forward planning” that should not be considered a done deal.

Andrew Norton, Eden Centre director, said: “We are not aware of any plans for House of Fraser to close their High Wycombe store.

“Because of the long-term nature of the property industry, it is perfectly normal to continuously explore commercial appetites for future alternative uses of space.

“This type of forward planning and market testing should not be considered a fait accompli.”

Michael Garvey, from Chandler and Garvey, said House of Fraser was not being pushed out - only that the plans are a “contingency”.

He said: “There is no reason to think House of Fraser will not continue to operate the entire building.

“It is an uncertain retail climate and the new owners are working through the challenges nationally. [Eden] is looking forward and this is just contingency planning should the circumstances arise.

“There is certainly no plan to undertake the work unless House of Fraser leaves.


“The store isn’t closing, they haven’t decided to close and we are not going to force them to close.”

Melanie Williams, manager of High Wycombe BIDCo, added: “As far as we are aware this is speculation and House of Fraser have no plans to move, it is general good practice for landlords to futureproof their assets by exploring all avenues given that we are operating in such a difficult environment for businesses.

“We continue to hope that the government will provide more support for businesses small and large through the review of the business rates system and the Future High Street Fund and also continue to invest in local regeneration to safeguard our town centre, particularly whilst the new council takes shape in 2020.”