Debenhams, the well-known department store chain in the UK, has announced plans to cut more than 1,000 jobs and permanently close 17 stores. This news comes at a difficult time for the company, as it is currently operating under administration and had to temporarily close its stores in March due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Out of the company’s 142 stores, Debenhams has managed to secure agreements with landlords to keep 120 of them open. Unfortunately, 17 locations will not reopen after the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

The list of stores that will permanently close includes Borehamwood, Clapham, Kidderminster, King’s Lynn, Leamington Spa, Merthyr Tydfil, Rugby, Salisbury, South Shields, Southampton, Stratford-upon-Avon, Swindon, Truro, Westfield London, Croydon, Leicester, and Reading. Additionally, three branches in Hammerson malls will be partially converted into the new Next beauty concept. The closures were anticipated for major stores in Birmingham’s Bullring and Glasgow’s Silverburn, but Debenhams was able to secure a last-minute agreement with Hammerson to keep them open. However, there are still concerns about the future of five branches, including two in Wales, as local authorities are enforcing high business rates bills.

The job losses will primarily affect roles in merchandising, buying, design, and administration at Debenhams’ head office. The company clarifies that these cuts are part of a larger restructuring process aimed at creating a more streamlined and adaptable operating model. The goal is for Debenhams to emerge from administration in a stronger position to face the challenges of the ever-changing retail industry.

Despite plans to reopen, Debenhams will not be able to offer certain services due to government regulations. Cafes and other close-contact services, such as beauty consultations and eyebrow threading, will remain closed until further notice. This limitation will undoubtedly have an impact on the company’s overall customer experience.

The struggles faced by Debenhams in recent times, coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlight the immense challenges that the retail industry is currently grappling with. The management team at Debenhams acknowledges the need to adapt to the changing trading environment and is actively working towards sustaining the business as a going concern. With a focus on slimming down operations and fostering flexibility, Debenhams aims to weather the storm and emerge as a stronger player in the retail market.

For more information on the challenges facing the retail industry and the impact of COVID-19, you can visit the following links:

1. Retail Gazette: Coronavirus – The Impact on the UK Retail Industry
2. Forbes: COVID-19 Was Already Hurting Traditional Retail – But There’s More Pain Ahead