Threat of further Debenhams closures ‘continues’

Debenhams has been placed into administration. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Debenhams has been placed into administration. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has called for urgent talks amid concerns that all Debenhams stores are still under threat of closure.

It comes after the department store confirmed it intends to close 22 stores – including one in Sussex – as part of a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) restructure.

The closures announced today put 1,200 jobs at risk, and the ‘threat continues’ at other stores, the union has said.

It’s calling for staff to be ‘treated with dignity’ and given a voice in the future of the company, which has previously said it will close a total of 50 stores.

Usdaw’s national officer Dave Gill said: “This is more devastating news for staff who have been working under the threat of store closures for some time.

“They have been left on the side-lines as a game of corporate monopoly has been played out in the media.

“It is devastating news for staff in the store closures announced today and the threat continues in every other Debenhams store.

“We again urge the company to engage with Usdaw the trade union for Debenhams staff.

“It’s crucial that the staff and their voice should be heard and they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“We will continue to provide our members with the support and advice they need at this very difficult time.”

“Usdaw’s Save Our Shops campaign urges the Government to take urgent action to address the challenges facing retail.

“Three million people are employed directly in the retail sector and another 1.5 million jobs rely on the success of shops.

“In recent years, hundreds and thousands of jobs have been lost in retail, with large and small retailers alike closing their doors.

“The time for action is long overdue and we need an industrial strategy for retail.”

Debenhams’ bosses have said their priority is to save as many stores as possible.

Announcing the CVA proposal, Terry Duddy, executive chairman of Debenhams, said: “The issues facing the UK high street are very well known.

“Debenhams has a clear strategy and a bright future, but in order for the business to prosper, we need to restructure the group’s store portfolio and its balance sheet, which are not appropriate for today’s much changed retail environment.

“Our priority is to save as many stores and as many jobs as we can, while making the business fit for the future.”