North West site among seven store closures announced by Debenhams

High street giant Debenhams is to close its Warrington store.

The retailer was placed into administration on April 6, seen by many as a move to protect it from creditors as the sector reeled under the impact of the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the meantime it has held talks with its landlords to ensure most of its portfolio can re-open when social distancing measures are relaxed.

But the group said it has been unable to save seven of its sites, which will not re-open, leading to the loss of 422 jobs.

Together with the Warrington store in the flagship Golden Square shopping centre, the other shops to be closed are: Leamington Spa, Salisbury, South Shields, Stratford-upon-Avon, Truro and Westfield (West London).

chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste said: “I’m delighted with the progress we are making with our landlord discussions which reflects the pragmatic view the vast majority of them are taking of the current market conditions.

“We have agreed terms on the vast majority of our UK stores and talks are proceeding positively on the remainder, positioning us to reopen these stores when government regulations permit.

“Regrettably, we have been unable to reach agreement on seven stores and these will not be reopening, and I’d like to express my thanks to our colleagues in these stores at what I know is a difficult time for everyone.”

The department store chain, which has key sites in Liverpool and Manchester, said it has so far agreed terms with landlords to continue trading at 120 of its 142 stores after it went into administration.

Talks are ongoing over the remaining stores.

However, the group has said that it is unable to rule out further closures in the coming weeks.

The retailer, which is one on the oldest in the UK, employs 22,000 staff.

In April last year it underwent a pre-pack administration.

Several weeks later a series of store closures were announced, including the Altrincham and Southport locations.

Earlier this month the group filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) to appoint an administrator.

The filing of an NOI in the UK is a first necessary step in that process.

Debenahms said it had the support of its lenders who planned to provide the funding for the administration.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste said at the time: “These are unprecedented circumstances and we have taken this step to protect our business, our employees, and other important stakeholders, so that we are in a position to resume trading from our stores when government restrictions are lifted.

“We are working with a group of highly supportive owners and lenders and anticipate that additional funding will be made available to bridge us through the current crisis period.

“With their support and working with other key stakeholders, including landlords, pension trustees and business partners, we are striving to protect jobs and reopen as many Debenhams stores for trading as we can, as soon as this is possible.”