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Debenhams future in doubt as it draws up liquidation plans

Suban Abdulla


The retail giant has 124 stores and employs a reported 14,000 staff. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP
The retail giant has 124 stores and employs a reported 14,000 staff. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP

The British high street bloodbath continues as the owners of retailer Debenhams becomes the latest to draw up liquidation plans in a move that could cost thousands of jobs.

The retail giant, which boasts 124 stores and employs a reported 14,000 staff collapsed into administration four months ago and announced plans to axe 2,500 jobs throughout its stores and warehouses earlier this week.

In April, the beleaguered store hired administrators from FRP Advisory in a protective measure against creditors demanding their money, after collapsing into administration for the second time.

Hundreds of jobs have already gone at the more than 200-year-old retailer since the start of lockdown after it permanently shut 18 stores.

READ MORE: Debenhams to cut 2,500 jobs as COVID-19 bites

Company bosses are thought to have appointed restructuring firm Hilco Capital — a company that specialises in helping distresses retail businesses navigate liquidation, should talks of a sale come to fruition.

A spokesman for the retailer said: “Debenhams is trading strongly, with 124 stores reopened and a healthy cash position.

“As a result, and as previously stated, the administrators of Debenhams Retail Ltd have initiated a process to assess ways for the business to exit its protective administration.

“The administrators have appointed advisers to help them assess the full range of possible outcomes which include the current owners retaining the business, potential new joint venture arrangements (with existing and potential new investors), or a sale to a third party.”

So far, more than 4,300 job losses were announced over the week by major British retailers and more than 730,000 UK workers have been taken off payrolls since March, gutting an already struggling industry.