Debenhams Oxford Street flagship among six stores to be permanently closed

Debenhams
Debenhams, Oxford Street

Stricken department store Debenhams has said it will permanently close six branches, including the flagship Oxford Street shop, with the loss of 320 jobs.

It said it had also told staff at stores in Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate, Weymouth and Worcester last week that they will not reopen.

The company started a liquidation process last month after failing to secure a last-minute rescue sale.

Debenhams’ administrator FRP Advisory said it is continuing to talk with potential suitors over the potential sale of all or parts of the business.

The insolvency firm said it still intends to reopen as many stores as possible to sell off stock, despite coronavirus restrictions keeping non-essential retailers shut. The chain is continuing to sell its stock through online platforms.

Geoff Rowley, joint administrator to Debenhams and partner at FRP, said: “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.

“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.”

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is believed to remain in talks with FRP over the potential to acquire some of the Debenhams chain but negotiations have been on-going since before Christmas.

Debenhams began a liquidation process at the start of December, one day after Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group (Debenhams’ largest concessionaire) was placed into administration. Debenhams had been in administration since the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown in April last year but had continued to trade.