// Debenhams’ empty stores could remain on high streets for years
// The department store chain was sold to Boohoo for £55m
// Boohoo will shutter Debenhams’ stores and retain its online channel
The former Debenhams stores on the UK’s high streets are likely to remain as empty units for years, experts have reportedly warned.
Following the £55 million sale of the Debenhams brand to online retailer Boohoo, the department store chain is set to shutter stores while retaining its website.
Experts have said stores in prime locations had potential for conversion, Property Week reported.
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The Boohoo deal means the remaining 118 stores of Debenhams, which went into liquidation less than two months ago, would permanently shut down, effectively making at least 10,000 staff out of work.
Boohoo Group, which owns PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal, MissPap and Boohoo itself, said the deal was a huge step in its ambitions to create the UK’s largest marketplace.
Since Debenhams fell into administration for the second time within a year last April, the department store chain has announced significant job losses and scores of store closures.
Earlier this week, real estate adviser Altus Group said landlords may be forced to pay nearly £1 billion in business rates for empty shops during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The collapse of both Debenhams and Arcadia group could see 14 million sq ft of retail space become vacant. Landlords may have to stump up a further £141 million annually in empty rates, after a short exemption period, if new tenants cannot be found.
News of Boohoo’s acquisition of Debenhams came as rival online fashion retailer Asos announced it was in exclusive talks to buy Topshop from administrators.
Asos said on Tuesday it was interested in saving the Topshop flagship store in London if its exclusive talks to buy Arcadia Group brands out of administration succeeds.