Jan 13, 2021
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Debenhams Oxford Street flagship axed, five more stores to close

Jan 13, 2021

As talks between administrators and third-parties go on concerning some kind of future for the Debenhams business, the company has announced several key stores closures and hundreds of redundancies.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Its stores are currently shut due to lockdowns but it said Wednesday that it’s closing six branches for good, including the Oxford Street flagship in London. Other stores to close are in Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate, Weymouth and Worcester. And 320 staff members will lose their jobs.

Debenhams went into administration during the first lockdown last year and struggled to emerge from the process. After it failed to find a buyer to rescue it on acceptable terms, Debenhams announced last month that it would be wound down after almost 250 years of trading.

But it then emerged that Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group was in talks to take it on, although its interest was said to be focused on the webstore and only a limited number of its physical shops. It was never likely that it would want the Oxford Street store as it has its own House of Fraser flagship just next door.

No solid news about a deal has been heard since, but while administrator FRP Advisory didn’t name Frasers on Wednesday, it said talks are ongoing with interested parties over the possible sale of all or part of the business.

Join administrator Geoff Rowley also said that despite the negotiations, “inevitably, the latest lockdown has had an effect on our plans for the wind-down of the business. We regret the impact on those colleagues affected by today’s announcement and would like to thank all those who continue to keep the business trading in very difficult circumstances.”

Very little went right for Debenhams in recent months with its encouraging trading in the autumn being derailed by enforced temporary closures during peak periods. And the latest lockdown, plus the UK’s departure from the EU, has piled on further pressure. Only last month it emerged that it was closing its Irish webstore due to issues linked to teething troubles with the UK-EU Brexit trade deal.

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