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Debenhams Departs UK High Streets After Liquidation Process

By Jon Munnery
21 May 2021

The department store chain Debenhams has closed its last remaining outlets in the UK after completing a process of liquidation.

Dozens of stores previously operated by the business were closed over the course of May, with the retailer now having finally departed the high street after some 243 years of trading.

Debenhams went into liquidation in December 2020 after having endured several years of slumping sales and entries into administration.

A process of administration was commenced in relation to Debenhams entire business in April 2020, shortly after the UK went into its first Covid-induced national lockdown.

Efforts were made to find new owners for all aspects of the operation but no buyers could be found and Debenhams officially entered liquidation in the final few weeks of last year.

In January, the online fashion retailer Boohoo acquired the Debenhams brand and its ecommerce aspects in a deal worth £55 million.

That deal though did not involve the dozens of bricks and mortar outlets operated by Debenhams across various parts of the UK.

There were a total of 118 such stores at the end of 2020, with administrators having been responsible for seeing them closed down over the course of recent months.

That process was hindered by the lockdown restrictions brought in across the country in the early months of this year but closing down sales have been taking place across Debenhams’ stores since they were able to reopen in April.

Sadly, the entry of Debenhams into administration and subsequently into liquidation has led to the business shedding more than 10,000 jobs over the course of the past several quarters.

Trading conditions were tough for high street retailers even prior to the Covid pandemic, with shoppers increasingly tending towards online purchases and local stores often struggling to compete with their e-commerce rivals.

But the pandemic has added hugely to the financial pressures being faced by high street operators in all parts of the UK.

The British Retail Consortium recently welcomed the chance for its members to reopen their doors to customers after another period of lockdown but insisted that they will need considerable support from government if they are to properly recover their financial positions in a post-pandemic economy.

Jonathan Munnery
Insolvency & Restructuring Expert
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