// Debenhams has updated plans on winding down its business
// The retailer said six stores will not reopen. affecting 320 staff
// Debenhams’ liquidation in December put 12,000 jobs at risk
Debenhams has confirmed plans to close six stores permanently including its London flagship store on Oxford Street.
The move will affect 320 members of staff and will bring Debenhams’ store estate down to 118, compared to the 124 it had before it began liquidation proceedings in December.
The department store chain said its administrator FRP Advisory was continuing to engage with a number of third parties regarding the sale of all or parts of the business.
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Following the liquidation announcement on December 1, Debenhams said it would continue to plan for the ongoing wind-down of the business.
It means all of Debenhams’ 124 stores will eventually disappear from the high street, although an exact date for when each remaining branch will close has yet to be confirmed.
JD Sports has been in pole position in a sale process initiated by Debenhams’ administrators following its initial insolvency announcement in April.
It is understood that the collapse of rescue talks were partly linked to the administration of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which is the biggest operator of concessions in Debenhams stores.
Before the liquidation, Debenhams had 12,000 staff.
The retailer said the renewed national lockdown last week meant that a number of stores where it was unable to agree lease extensions on will be permanently closed.
Meanwhile, Debenhams has been selling off its stock online before shutting stores through an 80 per cent off closing down sale.
Along with its 370,000sq ft London Oxford Street flagship, other branches that are shutting include Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate, Weymouth and Worcester.
The closure of the Oxford Street site will impact Debenhams’ London Support Centre which sits above the store.
For the time being, Support Centre colleagues will continue to work remotely in line with government guidance and its Support Centre in Taunton remains operational.
“We continue to engage with interested parties over alternative proposals for the future of Debenhams, but inevitably the latest lockdown has had an effect on our plans for the wind-down of the business,” FRP Advisory partner Geoff Rowley said.
“We regret the impact on those colleagues affected by today’s announcement and would like to thank all those who continue to keep the business trading in very difficult circumstances.”