Debenhams to reopen 120 UK stores from next week

Debenhams is preparing to re-open the “vast majority” of its stores from next week, following successful negotiations with landlords.

The embattled department store chain filed for administration in April, explaining that the move would protect it from the threat of legal action that could have the effect of pushing the business into liquidation, while its 142 UK stores remain closed in line with the government’s COVID-19 pandemic advice.

The move followed a wide-ranging transformation programme as part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) which saw the business fall into the hands of a consortium of lenders in April last year, with plans to potentially close 50 stores.

Last month the company announced plans to close a further five department stores, putting 1,000 jobs at risk.

This morning, the company announced plans to reopen 120 of its 142-store estate, with three stores with street access to open in Northern Ireland on 8 June, including the Belfast flagship, and its two remaining stores in Northern Ireland to open shortly thereafter.

A further 50 stores will reopen in England on 15 June, with the rest to follow later in the week.

Debenhams said the stores were preparing to reopen with “strict social distancing and hygiene procedures being implemented across all stores in adherence with the latest government guidance”, including perspex screens at tills and personal protective equipment for staff.

Stores in Scotland and Wales will reopen once government restrictions allow.

Steven Cook, managing director at Debenhams, said: “We have been working hard to ensure our colleagues and customers can work and shop with confidence - our reopening plans follow the successful conclusion of lease negotiations on 120 stores, meaning that the vast majority of our stores will be reopening.”

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