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HMV and Debenhams become latest major retailers to close high street stores

Pedestrians walk past an HMV shop in central London, Britain December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Pedestrians walk past an HMV shop in central London, Britain December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

HMV and Debenhams have become the latest major retailers to announce they are closing stores on UK high streets.

Music retailer HMV has confirmed three of its stores will shut at the end of the month, with new tenants already lined up to move into the properties.

The company has warned of job losses and the closure of up to 10 stores by the end of this month unless it is able to secure new deals with its landlords.

It comes as the department store chain Debenhams, which entered administration in April 2019 to reduce its debt, said it was due to close 19 of its stores between 11 and 25 January.

A further 28 are reportedly set to close in 2021.

Debenhams chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste said in a statement: "We are working hard to implement the transformation of Debenhams.

"Despite a challenging retail environment, thanks to our colleagues' hard work and our investor group's commitment we are progressing with our turnaround."

HMV said in a statement that some of its shops were no longer viable due to "extortionate" business rates in certain locations.

The retailer said its three stores which will close at the end of January are HMV Bury St Edmunds, Fopp Glasgow on Byres Road and HMV Nuneaton.

The company said it was also relocating in Lincoln and Plymouth, with new stores opening in both cities at the start of February.

A HMV spokesman said: "There are currently 10 stores where negotiations with landlords are ongoing and we are hopeful of securing new deals.

"The closures are no reflection on our superb staff and where we are not able to come to a new agreement or relocate staff within the business elsewhere, unfortunately this does mean some of our staff will lose their jobs."

The 10 stores subject to negotiations are in the Birmingham Bullring, Leeds Headrow, Bristol Cribbs, Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, Glasgow Braehead, Grimsby, Merryhill, Reading, Sheffield Meadowhall and Worcester.

The company said the HMV Vault, which opened in Birmingham in October last year, and its store at the St John's shopping centre in Leeds will not be affected.

HMV was purchased in a rescue deal by music mogul Doug Putman in February 2019 after it crashed into administration for the second time in five years in December 2018.

Mr Putman, who runs the Canadian retailer Sunrise Records, closed 15 stores after taking control of the business.

The HMV and Debenhams closures come during a difficult time for the British high streets, with familiar names such as Maplin, Toys R Us and Poundworld closing down.