LONDON — The struggling high street retailer Debenhams has named the 22 stores it plans to shut by 2020 in the first stage of a restructuring plan outlined in October. The troubled retailer, which is now in the hands of banks and lenders, plans to reduce its current 166-strong U.K. store portfolio by closing a total of about 50 stores.
Some 1,200 jobs will be affected. Stores expected to close are located up and down the U.K., in locations including Canterbury, Guildford, Slough, Wandsworth, Wimbledon and Wolverhampton.
Terry Duddy, interim executive chairman of Debenhams, said: “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.”
Earlier this month, Debenhams filed for administration after rejecting Mike Ashley’s takeover deal. Shareholders’ stakes have been wiped out and the company suspended trading. Under the new ownership, the company will have access to 200 million pounds of funding and has said that all “commercial relationships with employees, suppliers, pension holders and customers” remain unaffected.
One week after refinancing, Sergio Bucher stepped down as Debenhams chief executive officer. A search for his successor has begun, and that person will likely be a turnaround expert.