MIKE Ashley's Sports Direct has bought House of Fraser in a £90million cash deal, just hours after the department store entered administration.

The future of the department store remains unclear, but it is understood that some of the 17,000 staff will be transferred over to Sports Direct.

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has welcomed a swift end to the administration process, but warned that the House of Fraser staff should be 'protected through the transfer process'.

Messenger Newspapers:

Rackhams House of Frasier staff could be transferred to the Sports Direct store in Altrincham Retail Park after the takeover bid is completed. Pic-Darren Marsden.

Dave Gill, Usdaw national officer said: “House of Fraser staff have been largely frozen out of the discussions about the future business so far and they were horrified to see the company fall into administration this morning.

"So we welcome a buyer for the whole business being found so quickly, which offers the best opportunity to save jobs.

"To be successful the new owners must listen to the staff and engage them fully in turning this company around.

“It is crucial that staff are treated with dignity and fairness through the transfer process and that is best done by the new owner recognising Usdaw as the trade union for House of Fraser staff.

"We are seeking urgent talks with Sports Direct. In the meantime we are providing our members with the support, advice and representation they require at this very difficult time.”

The department store confirmed it had entered administration this morning, after discussions between interested investors and its main creditors collapsed.

But House of Fraser remained confident that parts of the department store could still be rescued, most likely through a pre-pack administration process, where a new buyer cherry picks the best assets.

The department store chain confirmed in June that it would close 31 stores nationwide, including Altrincham's Stamford Quarter branch, as part of the company's rescue deal to stave off insolvency.

This morning, administrators had said discussions were continuing with interested parties, in the hope of reaching a deal.

Interested suitors included Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley and billionaire Philip Day, owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

House of Fraser has reassured staff and customers that its stores will continue trading as normal as they strive to reach a deal to save the ailing business.

Chief executive Alex Williamson said: "We are hopeful that the current negotiations will shortly be concluded.

"An acquisition of the 169-year-old retail business will see House of Fraser regain stability, certainty and financial strength."

In June, Trafford Council said it was “deeply disappointed” about the decision to close Rackhams, fearing its effect on the future of Altrincham's high street.

The closure will be a bitter blow for Altrincham's retail sector, which has enjoyed an impressive regeneration over the past few years.

The Council said it will consult with the town’s Business Improvement District (BID) and the owners of the Stamford Quarter building, to secure new tenants.