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Debenhams set to make around 90 head office redundancies

Lauretta Roberts
16 August 2018

Department store Debenhams is consulting with staff at its head office over a potential 80-90 redundancies in its fashion and home divisions.

Some 200 staff are in consultation over the move with just under half expected to lose their roles as a result. The retailer, which has been struggling with tough trading and is in the midst of turnaround programme, called Debenhams Redesigned, issued a statement about the move.

“We announced our intention to restructure our organisation around three business units: beauty and beauty services, fashion and home, and food and events earlier this year,” it said. “Our work to create a simplified and consistent structure across these units, reducing complexity and driving efficiency in order to deliver our Debenhams Redesigned strategy, is continuing.

Roles under threat include buying and merchandising positions in fashion and home and it is reported that some jobs have already been cut from its beauty and food departments in recent months.

Speculation was mounting earlier this week that Debenhams is next on the list of takeovers for retail tycoon and Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, who last week acquired House of Fraser out of administration. Ashley already owns just under 30% of Debenhams and should his stake exceed that figure he would be obliged, under Stock Market rules, to make a formal takeover offer.

Debenhams shares had been climbing since Ashley won the race to buy House of Fraser, but he has a number of challenges to overcome before he can begin his plan to revive the fortunes of the department store. Having closed down its website yesterday, House of Fraser has been obliged to cancel all outstanding online orders as its logistics supplier XPO downed tools over unpaid debt from before its administration. Ashley is not legally obliged to pay any debts from prior to the administration but suppliers are urging him to do so to maintain good ongoing relations.

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