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Debenhams store marked for closure

Rear of Debenhams, Chatham. Photo © David Anstiss (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Rear of Debenhams, Chatham. Photo © David Anstiss (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The Debenhams store in Chatham High Street is one of 22 marked for closure, it has been announced today.

It is one of four stores in Kent (including Ashford, Canterbury and Faversham) which will shut next year as part of debt restructuring plans.

The department store chain went into administration on 9th April, but today announced details of two proposed Company Voluntary Arrangements, aimed to keep Debenhams on a stable financial footing and ensure the future of the company.

Terry Duddy, Executive Chairman of Debenhams, said: “The issues facing the UK high street are very well known. 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.”

The news will come as a blow to Medway shoppers, with Debenhams being see as the “last bastion” of Chatham High Street, considering the growth of stores outside of the central shopping areas, and movement to dedicated trading areas.

All Debenhams stores are proposed to remain open during 2019, including through Christmas peak trading. Further store closures will be confirmed in due course, the final number being dependent on the Administrators’ future trading performance; discussions with landlords regarding changes in lease terms and rental levels; and with local authorities regarding business rates.