Failing retail chain Debenhams goes into administration, 22,000 jobs at risk

Debenhams has gone into administration for a second time less than two years after it was bailed out putting 22,000 jobs at risk.

The retail chain, which had described the process as a light touch, filed for administration after the coronavirus lockdown forced it to shut its shops across the UK.

Debenhams boss Stefaan Vansteenkiste said the circumstances of the decision were "unprecedented".

It has been reported that it is protecting itself from legal action from creditors while its department stores are closed.

Meanwhile, the store in Westfield shopping centre in West London has been closed.

Most of the stock has been removed from the 140,000 sq ft space and will not be reopening after the lockdown is lifted.

Westfield has refused to compromise on rent and Debenhams has started moving goods to its other sites.

In a statement, Westfield suggested it has already lined up replacement tenants.

Debenhams has 142 stores and 28 were expected to shut in the next 12 months as part of a previous restructuring of the business but more are expected to close permanently by 2021.

The retailer said it is still trading online "normally" while its shops are closed.

It has furloughed the majority of its staff who are being paid under the government's coronavirus job retention scheme which pays 80% of a worker's salary up to £2,500 a month.

Founded in the 18th century as a single store in London, Debenhams grew to 178 locations across the UK, Ireland and Denmark before it hit troubled waters in 2018.

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