Last-minute rescue deal for Debenhams has collapsed which means its flagship store at Liverpool ONE is likely to close once the remaining stock is sold. Tony McDonough reports
Debenhams store in Liverpool ONE looks certain to close following the collapse of a rescue deal for the ailing chain.
Located on the corner of South John Street and Lord Street, the outlet was one of two anchor tenants, along with John Lewis, at the £1bn Liverpool ONE development when it opened in 2008.
On Tuesday morning, Debenhams 12,000 staff across the country, including hundreds in Liverpool, were told a last-ditch bid to save the retailer by JD Sports had failed. The business had been trading in administration since April. Now all 124 stores are likely to close in the coming months as they dispose of the remaining stock.
The news comes less than 24 hours after Arcadia, the owner of Topshop, also collapsed into administration with 13,000 jobs at risk. When the latest COVID-19 lockdown ends this week both the Debenhams and Topshop Liverpool outlets will carry on trading for the moment.
Along with the rest of the retail sector, both chains have been hit badly by the COVID-19 crisis. However, both had also faced challenging times prior to the pandemic. This was particularly true for Debenhams which started as a single shop in central London in 1778.
Restructuring firm Hilco, which specialises in winding up retailers, will begin sending its team into Debenhams stores this week with a view to clearing remaining stock. The chain will continue to accept the firm’s store cards and process returns as normal.
Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, told the BBC: “We can not overstate the significance of this collapse, given the vast property portfolio, number of jobs impacted and the reverberations felt across the industry.
“The reality is that Debenhams has been outmanoeuvred by more nimble competitors, failed to embrace change and was left with a tiring proposition. The impact of the pandemic has accelerated its demise, but underlying issues within the business were the root cause.”