Final Debenhams stores to shut as chain’s 243-year history ends

business
Final Debenhams Stores To Shut As Chain’s 243-Year History Ends
Debenhams store, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Debenhams is to shut its doors for the final time in its 243-year history.

The historic department store chain will close its remaining 28 stores across the UK for good on Saturday after the company collapsed amid the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

It closed 21 of its sites across the UK for the final time on Thursday.

The Debenhams store in Basingstoke is among UK stores to close on Saturday after clearing remaining stock (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The retailer has suffered slumping sales in recent years as shoppers moved away from traditional department store models.

However, the enforced closure of sites during the pandemic was the final straw, resulting in the company falling into administration within weeks of the virus hitting Europe.

The Irish arm of the retailer, which operated 11 stores, was placed into liquidation in April 2020 after the UK parent company entered administration and ended its financial support of the Irish business.

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Some 1,000 staff directly employed by Debenhams Retail Ireland and hundreds more working in concession outlets in the shops — who were already on temporary layoffs due to the Covid-19 pandemic — lost their jobs, leading to a major dispute with the firm over redundancy terms.

Debenhams’ Oxford Street store was part of a limited number of its sites not to reopen after the latest UK lockdown (Yui Mok/PA)

The company then started its UK liquidation process at the start of this year after failing to secure a rescue sale.

Debenhams, which employed more than 20,000 people before the pandemic, sold its brand and website to online giant Boohoo for £55 million (€63.8 million) in January but confirmed its bricks and mortar business would close for good.

It reopened sites in the UK from April 12th after the reopening of essential retail in order to clear stock across its stores.

Stores closing on May 15th include those in Belfast, Newry and Rushmere in Northern Ireland.

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