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Debenhams to axe 1,200 staff, shut department stores

LONDON: British department store chain Debenhams will shut 22 stores next year and axe 1,200 staff, the group said Friday after outsiders were brought in to save the group from collapse.

Debenhams, which runs 182 mainly-UK stores, fell into administration earlier this month in the face of fierce online competition.

The department store chain said in a statement Friday that the “decisive actions will serve to keep Debenhams on a stable financial footing and ensure the future of the company”.

Chief executive Terry Duddy added: “Debenhams has a clear strategy and a bright future, but in order for the business to prosper, we need to restructure the group’s store portfolio and its balance sheet, which are not appropriate for today’s much changed retail environment.”

The retail stalwart, whose history dates back to 1778, was taken over by lenders earlier this month.

Department stores are among a string of major UK retailers that have fallen victim to a surge in online shopping, rising business property taxes, stretched household budgets and Brexit uncertainty.

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