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Orpington Debenhams closing next year - staff could be "redeployed"

PUBLISHED: 12:04 29 April 2019

Worries for staff at Debenhams in Orpington

Worries for staff at Debenhams in Orpington

Archant

Troubled department store Debenhams has announced store closures across the UK, including Orpington.

But it is not the end of the company, claims its boss.

Executive chairman Terry Duddy said: “The issues facing the UK high street are very well known. Debenhams has a clear strategy and a bright future, but in order for the business to prosper, we need to restructure the group's store portfolio and its balance sheet, which are not appropriate for today's much changed retail environment.

“Our priority is to save as many stores and as many jobs as we can, while making the business fit for the future.”

They said 22 stores are “expected to close in 2020”, including Orpington, but not before this year's lucrative festive period.

Some 1,200 UK employees are affected with Debenhams looking to “redeploy as many as possible” and will continue to be paid.

Fifty stores could ultimately close.

The company described itself as “an attractive and cash generative business with a leading position in cosmetics and skincare, and a top five position in fashion. The group has previously outlined its Redesigned strategy which details a smaller UK footprint with better quality stores.”

It has “engaged with its landlords and groups representing the landlords, pension trustees, lenders and other stakeholders, and will seek to engage further as the process progresses.”

It said a proposed Company Voluntary Arrangement, or CVA, is “part of the company's restructuring and turnaround plan. In conjunction with this, certain of the Group's financial creditors recently provided £200m of fresh liquidity and have committed to equitise £100m of debt.”

But it ominously added: “The CVA proposals provide a mechanism to restructure the store estate in line with the plan outlined by management in October 2018 to reduce the current 166 UK store portfolio by closing around 50 stores. The first stage of that programme proposes up to 22 store closures in 2020.”

Debenhams said: “Further store closures to be confirmed in due course, the final number being dependent on future trading performance; discussions with landlords regarding changes in lease terms and rental levels; and with local authorities regarding business rates.”

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