Debenhams cuts 2500 jobs in latest redundancy round

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Debenhams cuts 2500 jobs in latest redundancy round
The latest round of job cuts are part of Debenhams' plans to streamline its shop floor teams.
// Debenhams reveals plans to make 2500 job cuts
// It will affect sales manager, visual merchandise manager & selling support manager positions
// Debenhams says it needs to ensure store costs are “aligned” with a volatile trading climate

Debenhams has confirmed plans to make 2500 redundancies as part of its latest cost-cutting drive to survive the coronavirus crisis.

The department store chain said it was looking to make staff who hold sales manager, visual merchandise manager and selling support manager positions redundant.

Debenhams told Retail Gazette that affected staff, who are still on furlough, have been informed of the decision and will exit the business by the end of this week.


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The latest round of job cuts are part of Debenhams’ plans to streamline its shop floor teams and reduce costs as the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of abating.

The retailer added that it had no plans to shut more stores as part of the latest restructure.

Debenhams said that while it has been trading ahead of forecasts since it reopened 124 stores after non-essential retail lockdown measures were eased on June 15, it needed to ensure store costs were “aligned” with a trading climate that remained volatile.

“We have successfully reopened 124 stores, post-lockdown, and these are currently trading ahead of management expectations,” Debenhams said in a statement.

“At the same time, the trading environment is clearly a long way from returning to normal and we have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations.

“Those colleagues affected by redundancy have been informed and we are very grateful to them for their service and commitment to Debenhams.

“Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.”

The news means Debenhams is the latest major retailer to announce significant job cuts amid the pandemic, with the likes of WHSmith, Dixons Carphone, M&Co, Dyson, Ted Baker, Burberry, Boots, John Lewis, Selfridges, Harrods and Marks & Spencer all announcing redundancies in the past month or so.

Debenhams’ latest round of job cuts also comes two weeks after news emerged that it was pushing forward with a plan that could see a change of hands of the business.

In late July, investment bank Lazard was appointed to oversee a process that could determine Debenhams’s future and handle any talks with potential buyers.

Possible outcomes include the current owners retaining the business, potential joint-venture arrangements that could involve new investors, or a sale to a third party, Debenhams said in a statement.

A Chinese consortium is reportedly among potential investors that have already emerged, as well as Frasers Group owner Mike Ashley, despite Debenhams rejecting his various takeover offers last year in the months leading up to its first administration.

During the lockdown period, Debenhams fell into administration for a second time – albeit a “light touch” one, meaning directors are still running the business rather than handing it over to the administrators.

Before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the UK in March, Debenhams operated from around 142 stores.

The 18 stores that have permanently shut down since lockdown already led to potentially thousands of job cuts – although Debenhams never confirmed an exact figure.

The administration process also led to scores of job cuts in Debenhams’ head office functions.

Meanwhile, Debenhams reportedly entered lockdown with debt of £600 million.

When it first went into administration in 2019, shareholders had their stake wiped out as ownership of the department store chain transferred to a consortium of financial investors known as Celine.

Shortly after, Debenhams underwent a CVA process that saw it close stores and renegotiate rents.

While Debenhams’ Irish operation has already placed into liquidation, a liquidation of its core UK business would only happen of all options have been exhausted.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Visual Merchandising managers and Selling Support managers roles are old hat nowadays.

    Decent displays can be planned centrally and implemented in stores by selling staff.

  2. Shameful that they cant give consultation period and pay staff proper redundancy. Using the pandemic as an excuse no doubt. Cant take rent when your mortgaged in Monopoly Debenhams. Pay up, then give up…

  3. As one of the people affected by this I am shocked at the way it as been done at the end of the month when we get our final wage it will only be for 2 weeks no redundancy no owed holiday pay nothing

  4. I was made redundant on 17th July after 8 weeks of being on furlough. Still battling with the RPS to get outstanding holiday pay after being paid a pittance for notice period. Let’s face it, the management have no clue how to run the business which is why it’s in the state that it is. It can blame COVID-19 but it wasn’t around the last time it got into trouble was it. If anyone affected by this needs any advice as to next steps then let me know so I’ve already been though it and I know the help from management is non existent.

  5. The trouble with Debenhams is their insistence on sales staff constantly trying to sign people up to their store credit cards. This is supposed to happen for every sale and every customer. Their goods in is a shambles so restocking is w constant mess and the store looks shambolic. Instore franchises are a old fashioned idea. Their recent new openings have been in Ill advised locations Borehamwood was ridiculous the wrong store in the wrong place….. The new Watford one cost a fortune and was in the wrong location in the town. I could go on but the whole concept is old fashioned, tired and tatty.

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