HOUSE of Fraser made a £43.9million loss in 2017 as Brexit, terrorist attacks and increased online competition took its toll.

Figures released as part of a takeover of the firm by C.Banner, the owner of Hamleys, show the retailer's sales fell from £840.9m to £787.8m, a drop of 6.3 per cent.

The pre-tax loss for the 12 months to December 31 2017 compares to a profit of £1.5m the year before.

The chain's 59 stores include the former Dingles in Bournemouth town centre.

C.Banner said: "The Brexit referendum and the UK's resultant decision to leave the European Union and the terrorist attack in London, combined with a rapidly evolving retail market, produced a period of uncertainty and volatility that resulted in a difficult trading environment for the whole retail industry in the UK."

House of Fraser's Chinese owner Sanpower is selling a majority stake in the business while pursuing store closures.

C.Banner is spending £141m to take a 51 per cent stake in the group, according to calculations based on a Hong Kong stock exchange release.

Despite the poor financial showing, C.Banner said House of Fraser would become "more stable" when it completed its restructuring plan, the details of which will be released in June.

"Nevertheless, the directors believe that as a leading department store chain in the UK, the target group will be able to take advantage of its well-known brand to capture growth potential," the firm said.

The retailer is struggling under the cost of its property portfolio.

It rents 4.4m square feet of retail space, and is stuck in long-term leases, with the average remaining lease life on its stores standing at 29 years.

C.Banner is hoping a tie-up with House of Fraser will create cost savings in its footwear and toys businesses, as well as in back-office functions such as IT.