"I am confident that Wandsworth town centre will weather this setback"
Debenhams in Southside. Image: Google Streetview
Troubled retailer Debenhams has announced that their store in the Southside is to close.
It has been named as one of 22 stores which are being shut as part of a rescue plan by new owners. The department store chain was taken over recently with the equity of existing shareholders written down to zero. It is now owned by a consortium of banks who converted their debt into new equity and US investment firms who are believed to have bought the debt at distressed levels.
The closures are to begin from next year and initially 1,200 jobs are at risk. Further closures have not been ruled out.
Terry Duddy, Debenhams executive chairman said, "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.
"Our priority is to save as many stores and as many jobs as we can, while making the business fit for the future."
Following the news of Debenhams’ restructuring plans, Wandsworth Council Leader Ravi Govindia has expressed his regret that the store in Wandsworth Southside has been identified as one of the 22 earmarked for closure in 2020.
He said, "The arrival of Debenhams in Wandsworth town centre in 2015 signalled a new chapter for both the town centre and Southside shopping centre. It was a key milestone in the regeneration of the town which has been transformed over the last twenty years. I’m therefore disappointed at the news that it that is earmarked for closure next year. The challenges faced by the department store sector and Debenhams in particular have been well publicised and ultimately the sector and our town centres need to adapt to changing consumer tastes.
"I have today written to Debenhams thanking them for their contribution to the borough and welcoming their undertakings to support staff at the Wandsworth store through this difficult time. Debenhams worked closely with the Council’s Workmatch service to place local people into the jobs created here and I have offered our continuing support to assist them find work elsewhere in the borough.
"I am confident that Wandsworth town centre will weather this setback."
April 28, 2019