More Debenhams stores to close, Welsh stores at risk
Debenhams has announced the permanent closure of a further four shops with the department store chain, which is operating in administration, saying it would close its stores in Swindon, Southampton, Borehamwood and Kidderminster. Some 239 jobs would be affected.
This is in addition to the recent announcement of the closure of branches in South Shields, Leamington Spa, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Salisbury, Truro, Westfield London and Warrington.
The company began axing branches in January, with 22 planned closures at that point. Another 28 had been expected to shut at some point next year. But with all 142 obvious shops currently closed due to the UK lockdown, its permanent closure programme has been accelerated.
It has already said that all 11 of it shops in Ireland will close permanently.
At the weekend, the retailer also said that it could be compelled to permanently close all of its shops in Wales unless the devolved Welsh government changes it minds about business rates.
The UK has grated a business rates holiday to all retailers for a year. The Welsh government had done the same but later said the threshold for eligible business would be changed to allow it to issue grants to smaller firms. It means stores with a rateable value of £0.5 million and over don’t qualify.
The BBC reported Debenhams' chairman saying the decision threatened the viability of its Welsh biggest stores, including Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Wrexham and Llandudno. Cardiff is believed to account for £1.1 million of its multi-million pound business rates bill in wales.
Chairman Mark Gifford said in a letter to the Welsh government: “You have made it economically unviable for us to continue trading the majority of our Welsh business. You have failed to understand the situation, where Debenhams Retail Limited is in administration and will cease to pay business rates unless it chooses to reopen its stores in Wales.”
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