// Debenhams to shut down all 15 Scottish stores, resulting in 647 job losses
// However, in England it will reopen its stores briefly once lockdown restrictions are lifted
// It’s the latest in Debenhams’ liquidation & wind-down process, which will eventually see all of its stores shut down for good
Debenhams is to shut down all 15 of its stores in Scotland, resulting in almost 650 job losses, as administrators provide an update on the retailer’s liquidation and wind-down process.
However, following the announcements of the plans for easing lockdown for non-essential retailers, the collapsed department store chain confirmed that it intends to re-open its stores in England, Wales and Northern Ireland “for a short period” to complete its stock liquidation process as soon as government restrictions allow.
In England this is expected to be no earlier than April 12 based on the latest government guidance.
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A specific lockdown exit date for Northern Ireland and Wales is set to be revealed.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government stated that the reopening of non-essential stores there would not begin until April 26 at the earliest, and that this would then be on a tiered basis.
Debenhams’ administrators said this timeline did not align with those expected in other parts of the UK, prompting it to make the decision to not reopen its Scottish stores briefly as it plans to do so in England.
The total number of Debenhams employees affected is 647.
“With the planned wind-down of the Debenhams business, regrettably our 15 stores in Scotland will now not reopen and are closed permanently,” the retailer said in its update.
“As a result of these closures, all employees in our Scottish stores will be made redundant.
“A number of employees will be retained for a short period of time to support an orderly exit from the stores.”
Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner of FRP Advisory, said: “The Debenhams liquidation clearance continues online, and will restart in stores in England, Wales and Northern Ireland once restrictions allow.
“We regret that Debenhams’ Scottish stores will not be able to reopen, and would like to thank all those employees affected for their commitment to Debenhams during what I know has been an extremely unsettling time.”
Debenhams went into liquidation in December, after an administration process failed to secure any buyers to save the department store chain.
About a month later, Debenhams’ brand and assets were purchased by Boohoo Group in a £55 million deal.
Boohoo’s deal only includes Debenhams’ brand and other business assets – including all the in-house brands and websites – and will see Boohoo take ownership of Debenhams’ ecommerce operations and products around the start of its next financial year in March.
This allows enough time for administrators to continue running closing down sales across Debenhams’ remaining shops – which counted 118 at the time – once they are allowed to reopen once lockdown restrictions are lifted.
The Insolvency and Companies Court also gave the department store retailer orders to wind down hours after the Boohoo deal was confirmed.
With all of Debenhams’ stores closing down permanently as part of the liquidation and wind-down process, it means up to 12,000 staff would not have their jobs saved.
Since it fell into administration last April, Debenhams had already announced significant job losses and store closures – including the more recent announcement of six store closures, of which its flagship outlet on London’s Oxford Street was a part.
That administration itself was the second of its kind that Debenhams had launched within the space of 12 months.
Shortly after the first administration, it launched a CVA that saw it close down scores of stores immediately after the 2019 Christmas trading season.
At its peak and before the first administration in 2019, Debenhams operated from around 160 stores across the UK.