THE owner of Sports Direct is thought to be in talks with House of Fraser after a rescue plan which would involve closing its Bournemouth branch was plunged into doubt.

The struggling department store chain has been speaking to Mike Ashley about a possible £50million loan to keep the business going, it is reported.

In June, House of Fraser announced plans to close 31 of its 59 stores, including the former Dingles in Old Christchurch Road.

However, the restructuring plan – under a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) – is being challenged by landlords. The dispute could hold up by several months a £70million loan from Hamleys owner C.Banner, which intends to buy a 51 per cent stake in the business and inject new capital.

Mike Ashley bought an 11 per cent share of the business in 2014, when the rest was sold to Chinese conglomerate Sanpower.

He also has a 29.7 per cent stake in rival department store chain Debenhams, as well as strategic investments in businesses including Goals Soccer Centre and French Connection.

Sky News reported that Sports Direct wrote to House of Fraser on July 2, saying it “would like to look at making an alternative offer”.

The report said House of Fraser was likely to collapse into administration if it could not win support. It is understood to need new capital to buy stock ready for Christmas trading, with lenders are reluctant to provide finance while the future is unclear.

House of Fraser’s CVA proposals would mean the loss of around 6,000 jobs.

It employs around 5,000 people directly with another 12,500 working at concession in its stores.

Its Bournemouth store can trace its history to 1871, when Frederick Bright opened a shop selling needlework and wool at the Arcade. The expanded Bright’s was later bought by Dingles, which became a division of House of Fraser.

In Bournemouth, Beales chief executive Tony Brown has said “a number” of the concessions at House of Fraser were interested in moving to his shop.

He said in June: “It’s always sad to see a retailer go. The vibrancy of the town relies on a good strong mix of brands.”

House of Fraser is the latest business to use a CVA as a way of fending off collapse.

BHS, Beales, Toys R Us, Mothercare, Carpetright and New Look all sought CVAs, but BHS and Toys R Us went into administration anyway.

Landlords have claimed CVAs are being used too readily as a way to increase margins and restore value for shareholders over other creditors.