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The Debenhams store at The Quays in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Debenhams store at The Quays in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The future of the Debenhams store in Newry remains uncertain following the announcement by the company that a sale process by it's administrators "has not resulted in a deliverable proposal" It follows and announcement yesterday that Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins were also in difficulties.

In a statement issued today the company added "Given the current trading environment and the likely prolonged effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for a restructured operation is highly uncertain. The administrators have therefore regretfully concluded that they should commence a wind-down of Debenhams UK, whilst continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business."

Debenhams will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks. On conclusion of this process, if no alternative offers have been received, the UK operations will close."

Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams and Partner at FRP, said “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams. However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached."

Mr Rowley continued “We are very grateful for the efforts of the management team and staff who have worked so hard throughout the most difficult of circumstances to keep the business trading. We would also like to thank the landlords, suppliers and partners who have continued to work with Debenhams through this turbulent period and can reassure them that all contractual obligations entered into in the administration period will be met in full.”

Grave Concerns

MLA Liz Kimmins has said news that Debenhams stores are to cease trading meaning employees could lose their jobs across the north will come as a major blow to workers, their families and the local economy. "News of potential redundancies as a result of Debenhams stores ceasing trading will come as a bitter blow to the workers, their families and town centres. First and foremost, this is devastating for the workers involved and their families but it will also have a major impact on the local economy." said the Newry and Armagh MLA.

Ms Kimmins added "Debenhams is an anchor tenant in one of the main shopping centres in Newry and this will potentially mean 100s of job losses across this constituency. In addition to this, more bad news that the Arcadia group, which includes Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, has announced it is going into administration, another major employer in the retail sector in Newry.

" It is essential that management will be proactive and engage with workers and their representatives at every stage of the process, and that those affected will have their pensions and redundancy pay protected.

 "I have also raised these grave concerns with the Minister for Economy, Diane Dodds and have asked her to ensure her department will take decisive action to provide all workers who may lose their jobs with access to retraining and up-skilling opportunities wherever possible."

 Concluding the MLA offered her sincere sympathies to all those affected by today's announcements, and has asked anyone who requires assistance or support at this difficult time not to hesitate to contact her office.

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