// Debenhams confirms that 3 more stores will not reopen after lockdown and will permanently shut down
// The stores in question are located at the Intu shopping centres in Metrocentre, Milton Keynes & Watford
// This brings the total Debenhams stores that will not reopen after lockdown to 20
Debenhams has added three more stores to its list of sites that will not reopen after lockdown, after it couldn’t agree terms with retail property giant Intu.
Debenhams told Retail Gazette that the three stores in question that will permanently shut down are located within the Intu Metrocentre, Watford and Milton Keynes shopping centres.
The retailer did not indicate how many staff members have been affected by the closures, but they did confirm that they have been informed already.
- Debenhams to reopen 3 stores in Northern Ireland before England
- Debenhams CEO Stefaan Vansteenkiste steps aside for consulting role
- Debenhams to cut hundreds of head office jobs amid reopening plans
The department store confirmed that the latest tranche of store closures means the total number of Debenhams stores that will not reopen after lockdown has been taken to 20.
It’s estimated that the job losses from these 20 stores are in the thousands.
The news comes as Debenhams reopens three of its Northern Ireland stores this week and less than a week before it reopens 50 stores in England from June 15.
“Sadly we have been unable to agree terms with the landlord,” a Debenhams spokesperson told Retail Gazette.
“As a result these stores will not be re-opening in line with the rest of the chain next week.
“We greatly regret the effect on our colleagues, who have served our customers with commitment and dedication.
“Our customers can continue to shop with us online at www.debenhams.com or at other local stores from next week.”
Debenhams said last week that preparations for reopening were “well under way”, with strict social distancing and hygiene procedures being implemented across all stores in adherence with the latest government guidance and instruction.
Its stores in Scotland and Wales will reopen depending on when their respective governments decide to lift lockdown restrictions, while the remaining two sites in Northern Ireland will reopen in due course.
Last month, Debenhams said that another 30 of its stores will reopen over summer – pending ongoing discussions with landlords.
With three sites now confirmed as no longer reopening, it means 27 stores will reopen pending these landlord discussions.
Debenhams chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste also recently stepped down from his position for a long-trailed transition back to consultant now that Debenhams’ stores are set to exit lockdown.
As consultant, he would be advising chairman Mark Gifford as he steers Debenhams into the next phase of its turnaround.
In April, Debenhams fell into administration for the second time within a year as a protective measure against creditors demanding their money amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With Vansteenkiste stepping aside, it is understood that Debenhams’ day-to-day operations would be led by administrators from FRP Advisory along with existing the executive team, including managing director Steven Cook and chief financial officer Mike Hazell.
Debenhams’ reopening strategy also comes with plans to cut hundreds of jobs from its head office – which employs around 1000 people – across the merchandising, buying, design and HR departments, according to initial reports by Reuters.
The retailer did not confirm exactly how many head office positions would go, beyond saying in the “hundreds”.