High street giant Debenhams is set to close, putting 12,000 employees at risk of redundancy. The company had entered administration for the second time earlier this year, but now looks set for liquidation. If there are no last minute bids for the business, then all 124 shops will cease trading. Administrators have been working to streamline the business. 6,500 jobs has been cut since April in the hope of remaining viable.
Founded in 1778, Debenhams has been a staple of the British high street for over 240 years. The first debenhams store was situated in central London, with the company withstanding World Wars, countless recessions and depressions. It seems as though the final nail in the coffin for this stalwart has been the combined surge in online shopping and the Coronavirus pandemic.
The news that Debenhams is set to close came just hours after it was confirmed that the Arcadia group has entered administration proceedings. The group which owns brands such as Topshop which accounts for the largest percentage of concessions within Debenhams.
Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams said “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams. However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.”
Administrators have confirmed that until the winding up process is complete, stores will remain open and trading; with customers still able to spend store cards and return items. Those who ordered products online, including orders made as part of Black Friday, should still receive their items. Orders will continue to be processed until all stock has been sold.
Once stores have closed for the last time, customers should contact their bank for refunds on undelivered orders. Refunds should also be available for unspent gift cards.