Debenhams to shut up to 50 UK department stores

London: British department store chain Debenhams on Thursday said it planned to shut about one third of its shops, many more than previously announced, signalling another blow to a retail sector faced with fierce online competition.
Thursday’s announcement had been expected following recent reports, with suggestions that some 4,000 jobs could be at risk.
Debenhams said in a statement that it was “closing up to 50 stores over 3-5 years, compared with the 10 previously identified”.
“It has been a tough year for retail in 2018,” chief executive Sergio Bucher said in the statement.
“We are taking decisive steps to strengthen Debenhams in a market that remains volatile and challenging… At the same time, we are taking tough decisions on stores where financial performance is likely to deteriorate over time,” he added.
Debenhams said it had plunged into a loss of almost £500 million ($645 million, 566 million euros) in its financial year to September on exceptional writedowns.
Department stores are among a string of major British retailers who have fallen victim to fierce online competition, rising business taxes and stretched household budgets — all coming amid Brexit uncertainty. — AFP