Debenhams is set to be liquidated, with 12,000 jobs at risk, after the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s retail empire Arcadia prompted JD Sports to abandon its bid for the department store.

In a statement on Tuesday, Debenhams said its administrators had not been able to find a “deliverable proposal” to sell the company, and will “commence a wind-down of Debenhams UK, whilst continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business”.

The administrators say that they will continue to trade Debenhams’ stores and online business through Christmas to clear its current and contracted stocks.

Debenhams, founded in London in 1778, has struggled for years and was placed in administration for the second time in a year in April by its owners led by U.S. hedge fund Silver Point Capital.

Retail trade union Usdaw is seeking urgent meetings with Debenhams’ administrators and urges them to treat staff with fairness and dignity, after news that the company is being liquidated. Usdaw also urges the Government to work with employers and the union to develop an urgent recovery plan for retail.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “It is devastating news for our high streets that Debenhams’ administrators have announced a closure programme. Throughout Debenhams’ difficulties the company and then administrators have refused to engage with Usdaw, the staff are being treated appallingly and we don’t believe the law has been complied with in the past.

“Over the Summer redundancies were made by conference call, with no meaningful consultation or proper notice period, as required by law. That must not happen again and we urge the administrators to engage with Usdaw, the trade union for Debenhams staff. It is crucial that their voice is heard and they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We continue to provide our members with the support, advice and legal representation they need at this very difficult time.

“Over 200,000 retail job losses and 20,000 store closures this year are absolutely devastating and lay bare the scale of the challenge the industry faces. Each one of those job losses is a personal tragedy for the individual worker and store closures are scarring our high streets and communities.

“What retail needs is a joined up strategy of unions, employers and government working together to develop a recovery plan. Usdaw has long called for an industrial strategy for retail, as part of our ‘Save our Shops’ campaign, to help a sector that was already struggling before the coronavirus emergency.

“There are substantial issues that need to be addressed likes rents, rates and taxation, to create a level playing field between high streets and online retail. Those issues will not be resolved with ‘sticking plaster’ measures like today’s 24-hour opening Government announcement.

“Retail is crucial to our town and city centres, it employs around three million people across the UK. The Government must take this seriously; we need a recovery plan to get the industry back on its feet.”


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