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Debenhams set to close its doors permanently after Christmas

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Dec 02, 2020 8:19 am Updated Dec 02, 2020 10:10 am

Debenhams is set to shut down all 124 stores in the United Kingdom after Christmas, putting thousands of jobs at risk

The 242-year-old British multinational retailer has "regretfully" decided to cease operations after its last remaining bidder, JD Sports Fashion, withdrew what could have been a rescue deal for the struggling business.

"JD Sports Fashion, the leading retailer of sports, fashion, and outdoor brands, confirms that discussions with the administrators of Debenhams regarding a potential acquisition of the UK business have now been terminated," Debenhams said in a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange.

The announcement came shortly after news of Arcadia going into administration was released on November 31.

Arcadia is Philip Green's retail empire that owns Topshop, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins. It operated more concessions in Debenhams than any other retailer and believed to have sold about 100-million-pound worth of clothing annually via Debenhams stores.

According to The Guardian, the fate of the two firms were closely linked. “Losing Arcadia was a fatal blow to Debenhams and losing Debenhams was a fatal blow to Arcadia,” said one of Debenham's suppliers.

He said other brands that generate substantial sales from concessions in the department store would also be hit hard.

The closure of non-essential shops because of the pandemic have put immense pressure on UK businesses this year. It has led both Debenhams and Arcadia to the end of the road, leaving 25,000 people between them jobless.

Debenhams is now set to enter liquidation and will cease to exist as a company.

UK shoppers can still shop in their physical stores and online until all stocks are sold.

Photo: Danny Lawson / The Guardian

Debenhams was built by William Clark back in 1778 in London, as a drapers store, selling expensive fabrics, bonnets, gloves, and parasols. 

In 1813 William Debenham invested in the firm, and it then became Clark & Debenham. The first store outside London was opened in Cheltenham in 1818.

Debenhams grew as the largest department store group in the UK by 1950, owning 84 companies, and 110 stores nationwide.