North West to lose two Debenhams stores as high street fights for survival


Debenhams has announced it is to close two of its stores in the North West as the struggling chain fights for its survival.

Altrincham and Southport are on a list of 19 branches which are to close with the loss of 660 jobs.

The shops will cease trading between January 11 and 25 and a further 28 will follow next year.

Other branches earmarked for closure include Eastbourne, Guildford, Wolverhampton and Canterbury.

Debenhams, which is one of the oldest retailers in the UK, slumped into administration last year despite a rescue bid from Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley.

Last year was one of the toughest on record for the high street with a series of big names falling by the wayside.

House of Fraser, Mothercare, New Look and Clintons were just some of the big names affected by the crisis.

Many retailers are expected to report lacklustre Christmas trading as shoppers stayed away in their droves.

The Centre for Retail Research said 143,128 staff lost their jobs and 16,073 shops closed their doors to customers.

Last year Debenhams announced that it would close its 50-worst performing stores under company voluntary agreement (CVA).

Debenhams’ chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste said the chain was working to implement a ‘transformation’ despite a ‘challenging retail environment’.

He added: “We are working hard to implement the transformation of Debenhams.

“Despite a challenging retail environment, thanks to our colleagues’ hard work and our investor group’s commitment we are progressing with our turnaround.”

Joshua Bamfield, the CRR’s director, said the retail industry was struggling to cope with soaring costs, low profitability and competition from online retailers.

He added: “These problems are felt by most businesses operating from physical stores, in high streets or shopping centres.

“The low growth in consumer spending since 2015 has meant the growth in online sales has come at the expense of the high street.

“The commercial pressures of higher labour costs, business rates and relatively weak demand will continue to undercut profits and force the weakest companies to close stores or enter administration. The high street and suburbs will continue to decline.”

The government has announced support for struggling high streets. Sevent towns and suburbs in the region have been included in a list of areas which will recieve help and support.

Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, said: “Central to the mission of this new Government is levelling up towns and regions, ensuring prosperity and opportunity are available to everyone.

“Over the course of 2020, we will invest hundreds of millions into projects to transform our town centres and support plans to meet the needs of local communities.”

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