16 Aug 2022

CORONAVIRUS LATEST: Debenhams 'intends' to keep Derry store open despite planned closures in South of Ireland

The 'intention' is for Debenhams in Derry and the rest of the UK to reopen with furloughed staff returning to work but up to 2,000 employees in its southern stores are now set to lose their jobs

Debenhams has confirmed its intention to reopen stores across the UK and for furloughed employees in Derry to return to work when the government grants permission.

It comes after today's news that the popular department store plans to place its Irish operations into liquidation.

A Debenhams spokesperson said: "The intention is to reopen the Debenhams estate and for the furloughed staff to return to work once the government allows it."

Debenhams has 11 stores in Ireland, including in Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork and Waterford.

Following the Notice of Intent published on April 6 2020, and subsequent to filings at the High Court today, department store group Debenhams has announced that Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory have been appointed Administrators in the UK.  

The group has entered administration to protect Debenhams in the UK from the threat of legal action that could have the effect of pushing the business into liquidation while its 142 UK stores remain closed in line with the government’s current advice regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.

The administrators will adopt a 'light touch' while the stores remain closed, working with the existing management team to get the business into a position to re-open and trade as many stores as possible again when restrictions are lifted.

Meanwhile, Debenhams continues to trade online across the UK, Ireland and Denmark, in line with government guidelines, while the lockdown continues. Customer orders, gift cards and returns are being accepted and processed normally.

In the UK, Debenhams has entered into administration in order to protect the business.

A spokesperson said that regrettably, due to the challenges facing Debenhams Retail (Ireland) Ltd. (“DRIL”), the directors of DRIL anticipate that the UK administrators will appoint a liquidator to the Irish operations.

Debenhams has already suspended trading in its 11 Republic of Ireland stores, the majority of which are now not expected to reopen.

"The affected colleagues have been placed on temporary lay-off under the Irish Government’s payment support schemes for employers and we will be working with them to support them through this process," a spokesperson said.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, CEO of Debenhams, added: “In these unprecedented circumstances the appointment of the administrators will 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 anticipate that our highly supportive owners and lenders will make additional funding available to fund the administration period. We are desperately sorry not to be able to keep the Irish business operating but are faced with no alternative option in the current environment. This decision has not been taken lightly and is no way a reflection on our Irish colleagues, whose professionalism and commitment to serving our customers has never been in question.”

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