DEPARTMENT store House of Fraser could nearly double its number of stores after a takeover by a Chinese conglomerate.

The high street chain, which was valued at £480m in the deal, has 60 shops in the UK and Ireland, but new owner Sanpower has plans to open up to 50 branches in China.

It's not known whether the name House of Fraser will be used at all the stores, with Oriental Fraser one name being considered.

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Yuan Yafei, Sanpower chairman, said: “House of Fraser is a strong and iconic heritage brand in the UK and abroad, with exceptional fashion credentials.

“We see significant opportunities to develop the business further and replicate the already successful model in international markets.”

House of Fraser already has one franchise store in Abu Dhabi, which opened last year.

Sanpower is expected to set out further details of its purchase of an 89 per cent stake in the 165-year-old business later, with the deal expected to be completed in about four months.

The announcement comes after Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley bought an 11 per cent stake in the business in a last-minute attempt to muscle in on the deal.

The chain said it did not expect to see any day-to-day changes for its 7,300 staff and 12,000 concession employees.

The company generates annual sales of £1.2bn and has branches in Darlington, Gateshead and Middlesbrough.