Debenhams shuts all stores, 12,000 jobs lost

LONDON (AFP/APP): UK department store chain Debenhams is to shut all its outlets, administrators for the collapsed group said Monday, with the loss of around 12,000 jobs.

Debenhams, which has long struggled with fierce online competition, will see its brand live on however after British online fashion group Boohoo earlier said it had bought the group’s intellectual property assets.

Debenhams collapsed last month, having struggled to adapt from a bricks-and-mortar business long before the coronavirus pandemic forced shoppers online.

Its stores will reopen following the lifting of the UK lockdown to liquidate stock, administrators FRP Advisory, brought in to salvage parts of the business, said in a statement Monday.

“Once Debenhams stores are able to reopen and the stock liquidation can continue in stores, the website will be operated by Boohoo.

“The closing down sale will continue in stores for several weeks until the stock liquidation is completed and the value of this stock will be retained for creditors.

“Regrettably, all the UK stores will then be permanently closed,” the statement added.

A source close to the company told AFP this meant that around 12,000 jobs would disappear.

Boohoo has meanwhile acquired assets, including customer data.

The cost of the deal is £55 million ($75 million, 62 million euros), Boohoo said in a separate statement.

It added that it plans to rebuild and relaunch the Debenhams online platform, as Boohoo looks to lead the fashion e-commerce market by entering into news areas including beauty, sports and homeware.

“Debenhams is a long-standing and leading UK fashion and beauty retailer with high brand awareness, and an established online platform with approximately 300 million UK website visits per annum,” Boohoo said.

“This makes it a top 10 retail website in the UK by traffic.”