14th Aug, 2020

Debenhams in administration as COVID-19 adds to pressure

Rob George 6th Apr, 2020

A LANDMARK city store is under threat for the second time in a year after Debenhams revealed it had called in the administrators in a bid to save the ailing retail giant during the Coronavirus shutdown.

Worcester’s High Street store is one of 142 Debenhams stores across the country which are closed due to the coronavirus crisis, with the firm putting most of its staff on the government’s furlough scheme.

Putting the company into administration would protect it from creditors and give the owners time to restructure the chain.

In a statement, Debenhams said the retail giant was making preparations to resume trading in its stores once government restrictions are lifted but didn’t specify how many would re-open once COVID-19 measures were lifted.

The company continues to trade online across the UK, Ireland and Denmark, in line with government guidelines and customer orders, gift cards and returns are being accepted and processed normally.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, Debenhams chief executive, said: “These are unprecedented circumstances and we have taken this step to protect our business, our employees, and other important stakeholders, so we are in a position to resume trading from our stores when Government restrictions are lifted.

“We are working with a group of highly supportive owners and lenders and anticipate additional funding will be made available to bridge us through the current crisis period.

“With their support and working with other key stakeholders, including landlords, pension trustees and business partners, we are striving to protect jobs and reopen as many Debenhams stores for trading as we can, as soon as this is possible.”

The retailer went into administration in April 2019, from which it was taken over by its lenders. Following this 22 stores were closed and there were plans for more closures in 2021.

Neither the Worcester branch or its sister site in Redditch is currently ear-marked for closure.

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