// Debenhams to give local authorities ultimatum
// The company will negotiate business rates cuts
// A refusal to lower business rates will threaten local Debenhams stores
Debenhams has reportedly said it will give the local authorities an ultimatum aimed at securing business rates cuts as it pushes ahead with its shop closure plans.
The department store chain is due to hold talks with councils in an effort to inform them that a refusal to lower rates bills could pose a threat to their local Debenhams outlet, Sky News reported.
The negotiating comes as Debenhams also seeks further rent cuts from some landlords, with property costs – both rent and rates – posing as a “huge burden”.
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While business rates are set by the government, Debenhams is asking local authorities to accept smaller sums than they were initially owed.
The councils’ agreement on rent cuts would help establish the locations of 28 further outlets which will be closed by the end of 2022.
Debenhams’ rates bill is reported to be around £70 million even after a number of store closures in the past year.
The retailer initially said it would seek to shut a total of 50 shops, leaving around 100.
A reported 22 of those 50 stores have closed in the past year, with Debenhams working to “identify” the remainder.
The news comes as retailers have continued to urge ministers to overhaul business rates in the Budget next month.
More than 50 major retailers wrote to the government earlier this month, in a letter which was signed by chief executives of retailers including Asda, B&Q, and Ann Summers.