Deben­hams branch is on ‘risk list’ for clo­sure

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Life - BY JAMIE LOPEZ jamie.lopez@reach­ @jamie_lopez1

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

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