Debenhams has announced it plans to cull 50 stores, creating confusion over the future of one of Gloucester’s landmark shops.
With its biggest loss in its 240-year history reported Thursday, the chain says the only way to turn things around is to massively increase the number of planned store closures with the loss of around 4,000 jobs over the next five years.
The company is yet to name the stores to be closed, but the news will send shivers through regeneration chiefs in Gloucester where Debenhams has a prime position on the edge of Kings Square.
The department store chain, once the biggest in the UK, revealed a statutory loss of £492m for the 12 months to September with indications the company is struggling.
“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,” Shop boss Sergio Buchers said.
According to Sergio, the company’s future is bright with its more than 19 million customers and its newest decision to close down some shops.
“Debenhams remains a strong and trusted brand with 19 million customers shopping with us over the past year.”
“Like all high street retailers, it is facing a tough time with soaring costs, fewer shoppers and crippling business rates.
“Many say much of the loss can be accounted for by a £512.4m write down on the value of the company.
Without this the company would have made underlying profits of just over £33m, compared to £59 million last year.
The company saw its stock market value slump from £1.5 billion to just £105 million in the past six years amid mounting concerns over its future.
Recently, the company became the subject of takeover talk, with speculation building that Sports Direct billionaire Mike Ashley is set to merge it with his newly-acquired House of Fraser.