The Speaker
Thursday, 18 July 2024 – 17:52

Debenhams set to close in difficult week for UK retail

All 124 Debenhams stores are set to close after efforts failed to rescue the struggling retailer.

Debenhams entered administration for the second time in April this year, though it had been hoped that a rescue bid from JD Sports would allow the retail chain to be saved. The sports chain has though ended discussions over a rescue deal for the chain, leaving it likely that 242-year old department store chain will disappear from UK high streets within months.

For now, stores will remain open to sell off remaining stock in a process managed by Hilco, experts in retail liquidation. During this time, administrators will continue seeking a buyer for the chain, however, if no buyer is found, stores will close once stock is sold.

Assuming no buyer can be found, store closures are expected to begin early next year. Over 12,000 jobs at the retailer are set to go, with staff being told about the news on Tuesday morning.

The news comes just hours after news that Arcadia is collapsing into administration, putting around 13,000 jobs at risk. Arcadia was a major supplier to Debenhams and this is understood to have contributed somewhat to JD’s decision to withdraw from talks over rescuing Debenhams.

Arcadia owns brands including Topshop and Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Burton – amongst others. As it stands, stores will reopen on Wednesday following the end of lockdown measures, however, staff at the retailer’s 444 UK sites and other functions now face an uncertain future. 

Both Arcadia and Debenhams have been badly hit by Coronavirus restrictions, though both have also struggled to compete strongly in the market in recent times, particularly against online retailers. 

In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said;

“Retail workers across the country will be worried about the future. Our high streets face a defining few months.

“We must fight to protect good jobs and good businesses.”

Following the news of Arcadia entering administration, the Government’s Business Secretary Alok Sharma said;

“It is incredibly sad news that Arcadia has entered into administration this evening

“I know this will be a worrying time for employees and their families, especially in the run up to Christmas

“The Govt stands ready to support those affected during this difficult period”

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