DEBENHAMS has named 22 out of the 50 stores that it plans to close as part of a plan to save the chain from collapse.
The department store will start to shutdown branches next year in a move that will affect 1,200 members of staff.
Getty Images – Getty Debenhams plans to start closing the 22 stores at the start of 2020
Stores in Canterbury, Chatham and Orpington are among the stores that are due to be closed.
Lenders took control of the struggling retailer earlier this month which wiped out the investments of shareholders, including Sports Direct billionaire Mike Ashley.
Debenhams executive chairman Terry Duddy said: “Debenhams has a clear strategy and a bright future, but in order for the business to prosper, we need to restructure the group’s store portfolio and its balance sheet, which are not appropriate for today’s much changed retail environment.
“Our priority is to save as many stores and as many jobs as we can, while making the business fit for the future.”
These are the 22 stores that will be closing next year
Earlier this month, the chain fell into administration after rejecting a £200million rescue plan from the Sports Direct tycoon.
It would have seen Debenham’s lenders agree to write off £82million of its £720million debts, which the retailer said was “not sufficient”.
Instead, it has chosen to implement a “pre-pack administration” deal. This is an insolvency process for a business to sell its assets before appointing administrations.
Lenders have previously promised that all 166 Debenhams will continue to trade as normal for now and that customers can continue to spend their gift cards.
Creditors are hoping that closing the stores will free up £25million which will then be used to try and save the rest of the business.
Debenhams falls into administration with 50 stores to close as part of deal to save the chain
All 22 of the named stores are expected to remain open throughout Christmas 2019, and it hopes to save some jobs by finding workers positions at stores that remain open.
The retailer is still yet to specify the remaining 28 branches out of the 50 earmarked for closure.
Debenhams already announced plans to close its Lodge Farm warehouse in Northampton but will continue to run three other distribution centres.
Jim Tucker, a restructuring partner at financial firm KPMG said that the store closures is a positive step towards turning around the business by having a “store estate that reflects the current UK retail environment.”
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Chain store closures in the past two years have stripped UK high streets of more than 1,000 shops, as bosses struggle under pressure from rising business rates and wages.
Last year, House of Fraser was saved from the brink of collapse after Mr Ashley ploughed £90million into the failing chain.
Toys R Us the UK’s largest toy and children’s supplier went into administration in February 2018, resulting in an estimated 2,000 redundancies.
While Poundworld announced it was going into administration four months later, with the closure of 355 stores and loss of 5,100 jobs.
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