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Debenhams Plans to Shutter Five Stores, Putting More Than 1,000 Jobs at Risk

Another five of Debenhams’ department stores will not reopen even when coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom are eventually lifted.

The British retail group has announced the permanent closures of its outposts located in shopping centers owned by Hammerson after it failed to reach a rent agreement with the mall operator. It has managed to strike deals with landlords to retain 120 of its 142 locations, which are still shuttered due to government orders implemented amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We can confirm that, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to agree to terms with Hammerson on our five stores in its shopping centers, and so they will not be reopening,” the company said in a statement. “We continue to engage in constructive talks with our landlords and have agreed terms on the vast majority of our stores, which we look forward to reopening when government restrictions allow.”

The impacted stores are located in the Bullring in Birmingham; The Oracle in Reading; Centrale in Croydon; Highcross in Leicester; and Silverburn in Glasgow.

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More than 1,000 jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the move. A majority of the retailer’s 22,000 workers are currently receiving wages under the U.K.’s furlough scheme, which pays 80% of an employee’s salary up to 2,500 pounds ($3,067 at current exchange) each month.

Debenhams entered bankruptcy last month for the second time in a year, appointing administrators “in order to protect the business” and get it “into a position to reopen and trade as many stores as possible again when restrictions are lifted.”

The department store is not alone in facing financial headwinds as COVID-19 sweeps the country. Fellow British retailer Laura Ashley blamed the virus when it declared insolvency in March, while fashion group Oasis Warehouse went bankrupt in mid-April. According to a late March report from market research firm Global Data, one-fifth of U.K.’s apparel and footwear spend could be wiped out this year due to the pandemic.

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