Pure Beauty

Debenhams exits high street after more than 200 years

By Becky Bargh | Published: 6-May-2021

The last of the retail staple’s stores are expected to close on 15 May

Debenhams is saying goodbye to the last of its bricks-and-mortar destinations after more than 200 years on the high street.

Administrators are closing the last remaining stores of the retail staple’s UK shops following its takeover by online superpower Boohoo.

Some 25 stores across England will shut up shop for the final time on 8 May, followed by a further 49 across the country, as well as in Wales and Northern Ireland on 12 and 15 May.

“Over the next ten days, Debenhams will close its doors on the high street for the final time in its 242-year history,” said a Debenhams spokesperson.

“Our sincere thanks go out to all of our colleagues and customers who have joined us on this journey.

“We hope to see you all one last time in stores before we say a final goodbye to the UK high street.”

Now owned by Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane’s online beauty and fashion business, Debenhams too will follow its proprietor and become an online-only business, but will continue to operate under its household name and keep its e-commerce operations.

The decision to ditch its retail destinations is another significant blow to Britain’s flailing high street and will result in around 12,000 job losses.

After a troublesome last few years for the 18th century department store retailer, and with the Covid-19 pandemic proving too much for it to withstand, Boohoo secured the retail chain for a significantly marked down price.

Debenhams’ online business, which estimates around 300 million visitors annually, generated sales of £400m in the last financial year.

However, Boohoo was able to scoop up the business for just a seventh of the price (£55m).

Speaking at the time of the sale, Geoff Rowley, Joint Administrator and Partner of FRP Advisory, the firm overseeing the wind up of Debenhams' assets, said: “We are pleased to have secured the future for this great brand, and to have created an opportunity for a new Debenhams-branded business to emerge in a different shape beyond the pandemic.”

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