Debenhams to permanently close five more stores across UK

Debenhams has announced that it will not reopen five of its stores once the nationwide lockdown is lifted.

It is understood that the permanent closures could result in up 1,000 staff losing their jobs.

Debenhams had struck deals with landlords to keep most of its 142 stores open after the struggling retailer fell into administration for the second time last month.

But it failed to secure deals for its stores at the Bullring in Birmingham, The Oracle in Reading, Centrale in Croydon, Highcross in Leicester, and Silverburn in Glasgow.

All five outlets will close as a result.

Debenhams said in a statement seen by The Independent: “We can confirm that despite our best efforts, we have been unable to agree terms with Hammerson on our five stores in its shopping centres, and so they will not be reopening.

“We continue to engage in constructive talks with our landlords and have agreed terms on the vast majority of our stores, which we look forward to reopening when government restrictions allow.

“This is no reflection on the commitment of our colleagues in these stores and we are extremely grateful for their support.”

The announcement comes a month after the struggling retailer called administrators in and shut 11 stores in Ireland.

Announcing the measures last month, Stefaan Vansteenkiste, chief executive officer of Debenhams, cited the “unprecedented” pressures brought on by the ongoing pandemic.

“In these unprecedented circumstances the appointment of the administrators will protect our business, our employees, and other important stakeholders, so that we are in a position to resume trading from our stores when government restrictions are lifted,” he said.

“This decision has not been taken lightly and is no way a reflection on our Irish colleagues, whose professionalism and commitment to serving our customers has never been in question.”

He added: “We anticipate that our highly supportive owners and lenders will make additional funding available [during] the administration period.

“We are desperately sorry not to be able to keep the Irish business operating but are faced with no alternative option in the current environment.

All 142 Debenhams stores were forced to close their doors temporarily on 24 March after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown.

Most of the firm’s 22,000 employees have been placed on the government’s furlough which covers up to 80 per cent of wages for three months.

Debenhams says its website will remain open for customers in Ireland, the UK and Denmark.

Boris Johnson has told MPs he hopes some lockdown restrictions could be eased as early as Monday, if new scientific data backs a relaxation.

“We want, if we possibly can, to get going with some of these measures on Monday,” the prime minister told the House of Commons on Monday.

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