Belfast Telegraph

Debenhams announce 22 closures - five Northern Ireland stores spared

Debenhams is planning store closures (Nick Ansell/PA)
Debenhams is planning store closures (Nick Ansell/PA)

Five Northern Ireland Debenhams stores have escaped closure as the troubled retailer announced 22 stores which will shut down in the UK.

Debenhams units in shopping centres Belfast's CastleCourt, Craigavon's Rushemre, Ballymena's Fairhill, Derry's Foyleside and Newry's Quays are all unaffected by the announcement today.

The stores expected to close in 2020 with the potential loss of 1,200 jobs are in Altrincham, Ashford, Birmingham Fort, Canterbury, Chatham, Eastbourne, Folkestone, Great Yarmouth, Guildford, Kirkcaldy, Orpington, Slough, Southport, Southsea, Staines, Stockton, Walton, Wandsworth, Welwyn Garden City, Wimbledon, Witney, Wolverhampton.

The group has announced a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which will see the affected shops continue trading until early 2020.

Further closures could still be announced following discussions with landlords. Meanwhile rent reductions will be sought on many of the remaining branches.

Terry Duddy, executive chairman of Debenhams, said: “The issues facing the UK high street are very well known.

“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.

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“Our priority is to save as many stores and as many jobs as we can, while making the business fit for the future.”

The retailer announced that it would pursue a restructuring last year, but the path for the process has now been cleared after control of the company was passed to its lenders.

Debenhams also released a financial update for the 26 weeks to March 2, showing that sales at its UK stores declined by 7.4% during the period due to weaker footfall.

Underlying earnings declined by 36.6% to £65.9 million.

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