// Debenhams says its Welsh stores may be forced to shut permanently
// It says the Wales finance minister has made it “unviable” to continue trading the majority of its Welsh business
Debenhams has reportedly warned that its Welsh stores may be forced to shut permanently unless the government reverses a decision on business rates relief.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has granted a rates holiday to all retail, leisure and hospitality firms for a year just as the coronavirus crisis escalated in the UK.
Wales initially said it would match these plans but then changed the threshold for those eligible.
- Debenhams mulls legal challenge over rent while Frasers Group faces legal threat
- New coronavirus guidance released on retailers reopening stores
The Welsh government decided not to extend relief to properties with a rateable value of £500,000 and above.
It said the change means business rates would be used for grants to small firms.
Debenhams’ chairman Mark Gifford said that the move threatens the viability of its biggest stores in Wales, BBC News reported.
He also said it was “regrettable” that by electing to take a different approach, the Welsh finance minister made it “unviable” for the retailer to continue trading the majority of its Wales business.
He added that the department store chain will cease to pay business rates unless it chooses to reopen its stores in Wales.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that four more Debenhams stores will not reopen post-lockdown, after the business failed to agree deals with landlords.
The shops are in Southampton, Swindon, Kidderminster and Borehamwood.