Major blow for Hanley as Debenhams set to close with 12,000 jobs at risk nationally


Hanley has been dealt another major blow after news Debenhams is heading into liquidation.

All 12,000 employees at stores across the country are likely to lose their jobs when the chain’s 124 shops cease trading.

The news will also be devastating for the Potteries shopping centre as Debenhams is one of the anchor stores.

It seems the final roll of the dice has not proved fruitful after rescue talks with JD Sports collapsed.

Staff were told the news on Tuesday morning.

Restructuring firm Hilco will start going into stores tomorrow – the day the national lockdown is lifted – to begin clearing stock.

The announcement came just hours after Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Evans and Miss Selfridge announced it had called in administrators.

Debenhams has confirmed plans to start winding down its operations ‘while continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business’.

The 242-year-old department store chain said its administrators have ‘regretfully’ decided to start its liquidation process, while continuing to seek offers.

It is not clear at this stage how many jobs Hanley will be affected.

Debenhams in Hanley

Shoppers have been left devastated by the announcement.

Kimberley Fowles, aged 36, from Biddulph, said: “I’d be sad to see Debenhams close for good. I like their make-up counters so this means I’d have to go to Boots for my make-up instead.”

┬áSam Tunnicliffe, aged 26, from Newcastle, added: “It’s a shame because Debenhams is one of the only reasons I visit Hanley.

“I love looking around the store, especially at Christmas when they have a really good selection of gifts.”

And Callum Thompson, aged 24, from Newcastle, added: “I feel very sad for the staff as their jobs are obviously at risk now. Debenhams isn’t a store that I visit frequently but I do pop in quite a few times throughout the year. I’ll miss having a wander around.”

Debenhams said it will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks.

“On conclusion of this process, if no alternative offers have been received, the UK operations will close,” the company said in statement.

Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams and partner at FRP, said: “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams.

“However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.

“The decision to move forward with a closure programme has been carefully assessed and, while we remain hopeful that alternative proposals for the business may yet be received, we deeply regret that circumstances force us to commence this course of action.

“We are very grateful for the efforts of the management team and staff who have worked so hard throughout the most difficult of circumstances to keep the business trading.”

Debenhams had already trimmed its store portfolio and cut about 6,500 jobs since May as it struggled to stay afloat.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “The reality is that Debenhams has been outmanoeuvred by more nimble competitors, failed to embrace change and was left with a tiring proposition. The impact of the pandemic has accelerated its demise, but underlying issues within the business were the root cause.”

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Coming so swiftly on the back of Arcadia’s collapse, today’s news represents a real bleak moment for the High Street.

“Given how prominently Arcadia brands feature in its stores, the downfall of Sir Philip Green’s empire was always likely to leave Debenhams’ rescue deal hanging by a thread.”

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