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Debenhams' Oxford Street store to permanently close

Simon Foy
·1-min read
Debenhams
Debenhams

Debenhams said it will permanently close six stores including its flagship Oxford Street outlet and cut 320 jobs as its administrator continues to search for a white knight for some or all of the department store chain. 

The retailer launched a liquidation process in December but after the announcement of the third national lockdown, administrators at FRP Advisory said "a number of stores where we have been unable to agree lease extensions will be permanently closed". 

The move comes just a week after Topshop's flagship store on Oxford Street was put up for sale. The two retailers are entwined as most of Arcadia's brands, including Topshop, have concessions in Debenhams stores. 

The department store chain acquired the site in 1919. It first began trading less than 150 metres away at 44 Wigmore Street in 1778, when William Clark began selling fabrics. 

Debenhams: death of a giant
Debenhams: death of a giant

Debenhams shops in Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate, Weymouth and Worcester will also close for good. 

Geoff Rowley, joint administrator at FRP, said: "We continue to engage with interested parties over alternative proposals for the future of Debenhams, but inevitably the latest lockdown has had an effect on our plans for the wind-down of the business.

"We regret the impact on those colleagues affected by today’s announcement and would like to thank all those who continue to keep the business trading in very difficult circumstances."

A source close to the company said that the odds of finding a buyer for Debenhams were more and more fanciful. 

Administrators from FRP have been overseeing the company since April, but put it into liquidation after they were unable to agree a rescue from potential suitors including Mike Ashley's Frasers Group and JD Sports.