Ilford Exchange Debenhams to permanently close

Closing down signs in the window of Debenhams in Worcester. Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a n

Debenhams announced that all 118 stores would close for good, including the location in Ilford Exchange. - Credit: PA

Online fashion retailer Boohoo has bought the Debenhams brand and website for £55million in a deal that will see the eponymous department store name survive, but the company’s remaining 118 stores close for good, including the Ilford Exchange store.

The deal will see Debenhams products sold by Boohoo from early next year, allowing enough time for liquidators to continue closing the retailer’s sites once they are allowed to reopen after Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

But with stores closing across the 242-year-old brand, it is unlikely many of the remaining 12,000 jobs will be saved.

Debenhams had already announced significant job losses and the permanent closure of six stores, including its flagship outlet on London’s Oxford Street.

A spokesperson for Exchange Ilford said: “We are  disappointed that Debenhams stores appear destined to close and our thoughts are with the Debenhams employees who have been affected.

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"We had been working hard with the Debenhams management in the hope they would be successful in finding a new future for the business and safeguard jobs.

"We will now turn our focus to securing new retailers to occupy  the space that will likely revert to us and look forward to bringing vibrant new occupiers into the centre to continue to serve the local community.”

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Boohoo said the deal represents a “fantastic opportunity” to target new customers and launch into the beauty, sports and homewares market for the first time.

The company highlighted that Debenhams has six million beauty shoppers and 1.4 million Beauty Club members.

Boohoo said: “The group intends to rebuild and relaunch the Debenhams platform, helping further the group’s stated ambition to lead the fashion ecommerce market, and grow into new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.”

In hints that it intends to take on the might of Amazon, Boohoo said it would create the UK’s largest marketplace across fashion, beauty, sport and homeware – expanding the range of products sold via Debenhams marketplace by maintaining current third-party relationships and expanding further.

Debenhams’ own fashion brands will also be absorbed into Boohoo’s current portfolio and sold via the Debenhams website.

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