Debenhams shuts seven stores after failing to reach agreement with landlords

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Debenhams has announced that seven of its stores will close, with the loss of more than 400 jobs, after it went into administration last week.

The department store chain agreed terms with landlords to continue trading at 120 of its 142 UK stores but has been unable to reach agreement over sites at Truro, Stratford-upon-Avon, Salisbury, Westfield, Warrington, Leamington Spa, and South Shields and hopes to announce deals on those in the coming days.

The historic retailer entered administration on April 9, appointing FRP Advisory to oversee the process, casting a shadow over the future of its 22,000 staff.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, chief executive officer of Debenhams, said: “I’m delighted with the progress we are making with our landlord discussions which reflects the pragmatic view the vast majority of them are taking of the current market conditions.

“We have agreed terms on the vast majority of our UK stores and talks are proceeding positively on the remainder, positioning us to reopen these stores when Government regulations permit.

“Regrettably we have been unable to reach agreement on seven stores and these will not be reopening, and I’d like to express my thanks to our colleagues in these stores at what I know is a difficult time for everyone.”

Last week, it said its Irish business – which runs 11 stores with around 1,400 staff – will cease trading as part of the administration.

Figures out this week showed that retail sales in the UK had declined at the worst rate on record in March as lockdown measures were introduced.

Total sales were down by 4.3% year-on-year – showing the sharpest decline since records started in January 1995 when excluding distortions – the BRC (British Retail Consortium)-KPMG retail sales monitor said.

It also warned that worse figures could still emerge.

Fashion chain Laura Ashley has also gone into administration in recent weeks, blaming the impact of Covid-19 for tipping it over the edge.

Bids have been made for parts of the Carluccio’s business after the dining chain collapsed into administration, as it appears increasing unlikely a buyer will be found for the whole business.

It is understood that interested parties have offered to buy restaurant sites and the brand, after the deadline for bids closed on Wednesday evening.

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