SPORTS Direct has denied claims that it plans to close almost all branches of House of Fraser after the Christmas trading period.

Reports that Mike Ashley’s company wanted shot of the stores created fresh confusion over the future of its big Bournemouth branch.

The store has been a part of the town’s shopping scene for generations.

House of Fraser’s store on Old Christchurch Road was earmarked for closure under a previous rescue plan. But when Sports Direct bought the company out of administration, Mr Ashley said he would keep open as many stores as possible.

However, he later said the retailer’s problems were “terminal in nature”.

Reports at the weekend suggested Sports Direct was either withholding rent or preparing to end the leases of most of the remaining house of Fraser stores.

But Sports Direct said documents quoted in the media related to the old House of Fraser (HoF) company and not to the current business.

It said staff had “woken up to a false sense of job insecurity” thanks to “erroneous misreading” of an administrator’s report for the old company.

“Sports Direct is working rapidly on our ongoing investment programme with the HoF brand and it is therefore totally incorrect to assume that there will be large numbers of store closures in the new year,” a statement said.

“We are taking legal advice with regards to this unbelievable level of misreporting.”

Bournemouth’s House of Fraser can trace its history to 1871, when Frederick Bright opened a shop selling needlework and wool at the Arcade.

Bright’s of Bournemouth expanded into neighbouring shops and was later bought by Dingles. Dingles became a division of House of Fraser and the separate brand name disappeared in 2006.