House of Fraser's distribution centres in Wellingborough and Milton Keynes have reportedly re-opened today (24 August) following a dispute between the retailer's new owner Mike Ashley and site operator XPO Logistics over an unpaid bill.

Mick Rix, national officer at the GMB union, which represents staff members at the both depots, told just-style the company has not yet confirmed anything with GMB. But he added: "We call on both XPO and Sports Direct to get round the table and come to an agreement which will stop 627 people facing redundancy. 

"We request they contact us urgently and tell us – and our members – what is going on. This isn't just a game of profits; this is our member's livelihoods on the line."

The GMB union earlier said 627 workers at the warehouses were put on a 45-day consultation period from 17 August. The two depots handle the retailer's deliveries to stores as well as customers.

Department store retailer House of Fraser collapsed earlier this month. It was sold hours later to Sports Direct, owned by controversial retail tycoon Ashley, for GBP90m (US$115.5m). The so-called 'pre-pack' deal does not oblige Ashley to pay suppliers money owed before the acquisition.

XPO Logistics is understood to be owed GBP30m and stopped processing orders for House of Fraser last week because of the dispute.

"When companies like House of Fraser crash, history shows that asset stripping is often the consequence," said Alan Costello, GMB organiser. 

However, reports claim the centres were due to reopen this morning, citing House of Fraser chief executive Alex Williams as saying all services will be resumed "as soon as possible."

House of Fraser last week cancelled all online orders due to the dispute, but at the time of going to press today (24 August) its website was still offline.

House of Fraser's wider debts are believed to approach GBP1bn, with luxury goods brand Mulberry among the latest victims after warning it is taking a GBP3m hit linked with the retailer's collapse.