County stores escape the axe

Lancashire’s Debenhams outlets have escaped the axe in the first round of closures announced by the department store chain as part of its restructuring plans.

Around 1,200 staff work at the 22 stores that are affected were told the news by management this morning.

Debenhams department stores in Preston, Blackpool and Blackburn were not on the list. However, stores in Southport and in Altrincham are among the casualties.

The closures are part of two CVAs and are set to be the first in an exercise that is likely to see around 50 of Debenhams’ 166 stores across the UK close their doors. The stores named in today’s list are expected to shut in 2020.

Terry Duddy, the executive chairman of Debenhams, told The Guardian newspaper: “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.

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

Debenhams, which has a 25,000 strong workforce, was taken over by its lenders two weeks ago in a pre-pack administration.