Beleaguered department store chain Debenhams has blocked a Next swoop for two of its stores with landlord Hammerson – at the Bullring in Birmingham and the Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow.
Next had planned to turn part of the stores into its new beauty hall concept, The Beauty Hall from NEXT, according to a report in The Mail on Sunday.
Debenhams chairman, Mark Gifford, is understood to have “personally intervened” after catching wind that shopping centre owners, Hammerson, were in “secret talks” with Next for five of its Debenhams beauty halls.
Debenhams staff have apparently been told that Gifford had successfully blocked the move for the Bullring and Silverburn stores.
Hammerson still plans to hand at least three of the contracts to Next under “flexible lease” contracts, though it is believed there are still a lot of unresolved matters to those negotiations.
The Debenhams board, its lenders and administrators at FRP Advisory are working towards bringing the business back to life after it was twice forced into administration, most recently last month. “Light touch” administration measures are apparently in operation as they prepare to reopen the stores after lockdown.
The aim is to keep control of as many of its 142 remaining department stores as possible, as they have “already struck deals on 120 leases”.