Last Binns store set to close as House of Fraser announces plans to shut 31 branches, including two North East stores
Retailer House of Fraser has announced plans to shut 31 of its 59 stores across the UK and Ireland as part of a rescue deal, impacting around 6,000 jobs.
The stores identified for closure include the Middlesbrough and Darlington branches in the North East, but the MetroCentre outlet appears to be safe.
The Darlington branch was the last remaining House of Fraser store to operate under the Binns brand.
House of Fraser said it has already informed those whose jobs are impacted by its plans.
The closures are part of a proposed Company Voluntary Arrangement, which will require approval from creditors who will make their decision on June 22.
Frank Slevin, chairman of House of Fraser, said: "The retail industry is undergoing fundamental change and House of Fraser urgently needs to adapt to this fast-changing landscape in order to give it a future and allow it to thrive.
"Our legacy store estate has created an unsustainable cost base, which without restructuring, presents an existential threat to the business.
"So whilst closing stores is a very difficult decision, especially given the length of relationship House of Fraser has with all its locations, there should be no doubt that it is absolutely necessary if we are to continue to trade and be competitive.
Once the darling of North East high streets, Binns was originally founded by George Binns who moved to Sunderland from Yorkshire in 1804, establishing a small drapery business in 1807.
He later took over a larger wool and linen drapery store owned by Thomas Ellerby in High Street West, Sunderland, assisted by his son Henry.
Henry inherited the store in 1836 and began trading under the name Henry Binns. When he retired, his son Jospeh took over, and the business moved to Fawcett Street in the city in 1884. It became H Binns , Son & Co Ltd.
The business rapidly expanded and acquired stores in Hartlepool, South Shields, Newcastle, Carlisle, Dumfries and Edinburgh.
House of Fraser took over Binns in the 1950s, with branches continuing to keep their names.
However, many of the stores - including Sunderland, South Shields and Hartlepool - closed in the 1990s as House of Fraser reviewed many of its businesses. They remain greatly mourned by shoppers to this day.
House of Fraser was acquired by the Highland consortium in 2006 and after the takeover, renamed all but the Darlington store as House of Fraser.