Debenhams is to shut its doors for final time as 243-year history ends

Debenhams went into administration in 2019 and sold its brand and website in January (Picture: Nigel Howard Media)

Debenhams’ remaining 28 stores will shut their doors for the last time today after failing to survive the Covid pandemic.

The department store chain was already struggling but was dealt a final blow by the forced closure of non-essential retail, bringing its 243 year history to a close.

Debenhams, which once had 150 stores across the UK, went into administration in 2019, as it struggled to keep up to date with changes in consumer trends.

More and more consumers began moving away from traditional department store models, but the business performed better in smaller towns with fewer shopping options.

Still, this was not enough to keep the business afloat and the pandemic forcing sites to close was the last straw. 

By December, 12,000 Debenhams employees had already lost their jobs as more individual shops were closed. 

Stores did reopen on April 12, when non-essential shopping was allowed again, but only to clear stock with closing down sales. 

Debenhams opened after the lockdown for its closing down sales (Picture: Getty Images)
By December, 12,000 employees had already lost their jobs due to scaling back (Picture: PA)

Debenhams has sold its brand and its website to Boohoo, which specialises in selling clothes online. 

The business started as a single shop in London in 1778 and grew to become one of the UK’s most well known department stores. 

Many employees spoke out today, saying they were sad to be working their final shifts at the store.

Jan, who worked in the Sheffield branch, said: ‘The day has finally arrived. My last shift at work, as the remaining 28 Debenhams stores close their doors for the last time. 

‘It’s hard to believe that 5 years ago there was a 165 stores! It’s going to be a tough, strange, emotional day. I’ll battle through.’ 

Sarah Fogarty, now a slimming consultant, said Debenhams ‘changed her life’ when she started working there 19 years ago. 

Reminiscing on meeting her husband there, she said: ‘We had our first kiss at the staff Christmas party and, 18 years later, we’re married with 2 kids and have so many memories between us.’

She continued: ‘My favourite department that I worked on (a part from the restaurant) was lingerie, despite the worn underwear left behind, the changing cubicles being used as a toilet and having to literally cut people out of spanx that were two  sizes too small, it was the best team and, had I stayed on that department, I’d probably still be working there today myself.’ 

The pandemic has hit the entire retail industry with department store rivals House of Fraser and John Lewis scaling back to save money.

Debenhams stores that closed today:




Birmingham Bullring






Cheshire Oaks






Leeds White Rose



Manchester Trafford


Merry Hill








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