Debenhams set to 'close all stores' including Chesterfield branch with 12,000 jobs on line

Debenhams is set to begin a ‘wind down’ of the business before closing all 124 of its UK stores, resulting in around 12,000 job losses.

By Sophie Wills
Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 11:28 am

Administrators to the 242-year-old department store chain, which operates a branch at Chesterfield’s Ravenside Retail Park, have been seeking a buyer since the summer and said the sale process had “not resulted in a deliverable proposal”.

It means that all 12,000 employees are likely to lose their jobs. Staff were told the news this morning (Tuesday, December 1).

It comes just hours after Topshop owner Arcadia, Debenhams’ major supplier, collapsed into administration putting 13,000 jobs a risk.

It is understood that JD Sports pulled out of talks over a rescue bid with Debenhams shortly afterwards.

The chain will continue to trade through its stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks, processing returns accepting store cards as normal.

Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams and Partner at FRP, said that ‘all reasonable steps’ had been taken to secure the future of the business.

But he added: “However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.

"The decision to move forward with a closure programme has been carefully assessed and, while we remain hopeful that alternative proposals for the business may yet be received, we deeply regret that circumstances force us to commence this course of action.

“We are very grateful for the efforts of the management team and staff who have worked so hard throughout the most difficult of circumstances to keep the business trading.

"We would also like to thank the landlords, suppliers and partners who have continued to work with Debenhams through this turbulent period and can reassure them that all contractual obligations entered into in the administration period will be met in full.”

Responding to the news about Debenhams and Arcadia, East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “The potential collapse of two retail powerhouses is a devastating blow to an industry that has been badly hit by the pandemic and our thoughts are with the 25,000 people who are affected at a time when unemployment is already

becoming one of our country’s biggest economic challenges.

“The struggles of the high street are nothing new but we’ve seen long-term trends exacerbated by Covid-19, resulting in a huge number of store closures

and job losses throughout 2020.

“Any closures of stores within Arcadia and Debenhams will leave further scars on city and town centres that have been crushed over the past nine months by lockdowns. While we know they will look radically different in the future, empty shops must not be allowed to become synonymous with our cities and towns if they are to truly recover.

“It’s important the Government works with industry to come up with a workable solution that will enable these centres of commerce to thrive once more.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.