Struggling department store group Debenhams has announced plans to cut 2,500 jobs across its store network and distribution centre as part of its latest cost-cutting drive.
In a statement today (11 August), the retailer said that despite currently trading ahead of management expectations at the 124 stores it has reopened post-lockdown, the trading environment is “a long way from returning to normal and we have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations”.
“Those colleagues affected by redundancy have been informed and we are very grateful to them for their service and commitment to Debenhams. Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future.”
Debenhams’ UK operation fell into administration in April, when it also said it would likely appoint a liquidator for its Irish operations. A month later, it liquidated its sourcing operation in Bangladesh in a move that led to the loss of almost 70 jobs.
The retail group, which originally had 142 UK stores and employed around 22,000 staff, took the step to protect the company against claims from creditors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In June, it said it would not be opening a further three of its stores after lockdown, taking the total number to 20. The latest decision means it will have cut about 6,500 jobs so far this year, representing one-third of its workforce, reports suggest.
In response to reports last month, Debenhams said its administrators had initiated a process to assess ways for the business to exit its protective administration. This, it said, could include the current owners retaining the business, potential new joint venture arrangements, or a sale to a third party.
Debenhams joins a raft of other UK clothing firms to have made job cuts in the last few months, including John Lewis, Clarks, and Pentland Brands.