Debenhams announces review of 10 stores putting at least 220 jobs in jeopardy

A Debenhams store. Credit: Press Association.
A Debenhams store. Credit: Press Association.

The new boss of department store chain Debenhams has unveiled plans to close 11 warehouses and put up to 10 stores under review, in a move impacting at least 220 jobs.

It is not yet known whether the Debenhams stores in Stockton and Middlesbrough will be affected.

Sergio Bucher, who took over as chief executive last October, outlined an overhaul that will see the group shut one of its three distribution centres run by DHL, 10 smaller in-house warehouses and potentially axe up to 10 of its 176 stores over the next five years.

The DHL warehouse employs 220 staff and will shut in two years' time, but Debenhams hopes to be able to redeploy many staff affected by the smaller warehouse closures.

Details of his plans came as the group announced a 6.4% drop in pre-tax profits to £87.8 million for the six months to March 4.

It is hoped that DHL will also seek to redeploy many employees affected by the closure of the Lodge Farm distribution centre in Northamptonshire.

Mr Bucher's turnaround will also see the group cull in-house brands and leave some international markets, while also shifting around 2,000 staff to customer-facing roles as part of a drive to lure shoppers back to its stores.

This will see the group offer customers experiences as it battles against a wider trend to switch spending away from clothes towards eating out and holidays.

Mr Bucher said: "Our customers are changing the way they shop and we are changing too.

"Shopping with Debenhams should be effortless, reliable and fun, whichever channel our customers use. We will be a destination for 'social shopping' with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with our customers."

A Debenhams spokesman said: “Debenhams’ CEO announced its interim results and future strategy this morning, which includes looking at the store estate.

"Whilst it is stated that up to 10 stores will be considered for closure over the next five years, there will not be any immediate implications for any of the stores.

"At the same time, we continue to open a small amount of stores in selected locations.”