Debenhams reopenings start next week, plans 'big bang' approach on June 15
Having struck rent deals for most of its stores, Debenhams is planning for its reopening programme to begin next week as three Northern Ireland shops open on Tuesday.
Then on June 15 in England, as many as 50 of its department stores will start their comeback. It had been reported that it would open 90 shops on the first day but the rest of its English estate is now expected to follow just a few days later. The stores in Scotland and Wales will remain closed until the governments there allow them to open.
It’s an ambitious plan for the retailer that's currently operating in administration and shows that it's keen to try to get back to normal as soon as possible. The 'big bang' approach echoes that of Primark but is very different to some other retailers, such as John Lewis and Space NK, that are taking a much slower approach to reopening.
Like its peers across the retail sector, the company will have strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place in line with the latest government guidance.
The first shops to reopen include a mix of town centre and shopping mall locations with the stores in places such as Sheffield's Meadowhall mall, in London suburb Bromley, in coastal towns like Hastings, Weymouth and Bournemouth, and in Harrogate and Leeds all on the list.
It’s interesting that university towns towns/tourist destinations like Oxford and Cambridge, as well as tourist hub Bath will reopen in the first wave, despite students remaining at home and tourist traffic being thin on the ground.
The Oxford Street, London flagship isn’t on the list of stores to open on day one, however.
With CEO Stefaan Vansteenkiste having now left the firm, Debenhams MD Steven Cook said: “From the installation of perspex screens at till points to the rollout of social distancing procedures and PPE, 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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