Debenhams branch is on ‘risk list’ for closure
THE Southport branch of Debenhams has been named on a list of those most likely for closure days before the chain confirmed 50 will be shut down.
Some 4,000 jobs are at risk following a profits plunge at the struggling department store chain and bosses say the closures – which amount to about a third of the firm’s 166 stores – will take place over three to five years.
The announcement came as Debenhams recorded a £491.5m loss in the year to September 1, compared with a £59m profit in 2017.
Boss Sergio Bucher said: “It has been a tough year for retail in 2018 and our performance reflects that.
“We are taking decisive steps to strengthen Debenhams in a market that remains volatile and challenging.
“We are taking tough decisions on stores where financial performance is likely to deteriorate over time.”
The stores due to be closed were not confirmed in Monday’s announcement, but just days earlier Southport was included in a list of the 45 “most at risk” stores, which was compiled by real estate firm Colliers International.
The potential closure risks leaving a large vacancy on the town’s famous Lord Street, with the department store currently occupying one of the largest sites.
Research carried out by Colliers suggested that business rates could be a key factor in deciding which stores close.
John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, said: “It is no wonder Debenhams is looking at shutting up to 50 stores and is trying to reduce its rent bills or cut its store sizes in some areas.
“As business rates are tied to rental values, it would be mad not to.”
Debenhams in Southport is facing the threat of closure