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November 16, 2018

Debenhams optimistic despite supplier concerns

Struggling British department store chain Debenhams is confident it is well-stocked for Christmas, despite concerns a number of high street suppliers have stopped working with the retail group.

Struggling British department store chain Debenhams is confident it is well-stocked for Christmas, despite concerns a number of high street suppliers have stopped working with the retail group.

Shares in Debenhams plunged by more than one-fifth earlier this week after reports emerged of difficulties with suppliers ahead of the key Christmas trading period.

According to fashion publication Drapers, a number of suppliers have stopped working with Debenhams over cuts to its credit insurance and fears of missed payments.

A spokesperson for the retailer said in a statement: “Many suppliers don’t use credit insurance. Those that have used it historically are well aware of the current situation and work with retailers to manage things accordingly. Debenhams is well stocked for Christmas.”

Last month the retail group revealed a record annual pre-tax loss of GBP491.5m (US$634.3m) against profits of GBP59m the year before – the biggest in its 240-year history. The company, which operates around 165 stores, has also announced plans to close up to 50 stores as part of a turnaround plan, putting around 4,000 jobs at risk.

Like others facing pressure on the UK high street, Debenhams has struggled to adapt as shoppers switch to spending more online. Earlier this year, department store chain House of Fraser was bought out of administration by Sports Direct, while Mothercare and Marks & Spencer have both announced store closures.

Having issued three profit warnings this year, Debenhams is in the midst of a redesign strategy aimed at finding efficiencies through simplifying and focusing the business, with an eye on becoming more digitally-driven. There has also been a focus on selling assets to shore up the group’s finances, including its Danish chain Magasin du Nord.

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