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Debenhams is closing all of its Irish stores and will go into liquidation

The company operates four stores in Dublin, two in Cork and others in Galway, Limerick, Newbridge, Tralee and Waterford.

Updated Apr 9th 2020, 3:59 PM

DEBENHAMS HAS TOLD staff that the company is to go into liquidation and will not be reopening its 11 Irish stores after the Covid-19 emergency. 

The Mandate Trade Union has said this will mean the loss of almost 2,000 jobs across the country. 

The company operates four stores in Dublin, two in Cork and others in Galway, Limerick, Newbridge, Tralee and Waterford.

In a statement today, Debenhams said the Republic of Ireland retail operations had trading challenges which were exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19 and that it has already suspended trading in Irish stores, the majority of which are not now expected to reopen. 

The retailer said customers will still be able to shop online.

“We are desperately sorry not to be able to keep the Irish business operating but are faced with no alternative option in the current environment,” Debenhams CEO Stefaan Vansteenkiste said today. 

“This decision has not been taken lightly and is no way a reflection on our Irish colleagues, whose professionalism and commitment to serving our customers has never been in question.

“The colleagues have been placed on temporary lay-off under the Irish Government’s payment support schemes for employers and we will be working with them to support them through this process,” he said. 

Debenhams said yesterday that it was to go into administration in the UK with its 142 stores closed and 22,000 staff placed on furlough. The UK department store dates back to 1778.

This would represent the second time in 12 months that the UK store entered administration. On that occasion, Debenhams Ireland reassured staff here that they would not be affected. 

Debenhams in Ireland operates under a separate company, Debenhams Retail (Ireland) Ltd, following an examinership process in the Republic of Ireland in 2016.

Under that process, the vast majority of the company’s 1,400 directly employed staff, some 500 concession staff and 300 cosmetic staff were to be retained. 

The company has suspended trading due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Irish staff have now been informed in a letter that “these stores are not expected to reopen.”

“Despite knowledge that the company was in administration and that it wasn’t trading well, this news has come as a massive shock to our members who will be devastated by this announcement,” general secretary of the Mandate trade union John Douglas said this afternoon. 

“We are in close contact with the company and will remain so over the forthcoming process. We will be seeking a meeting with the liquidator when they are appointed and demanding that our members are prioritised throughout the liquidation process so that we can get the best possible deal for them.”

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Rónán Duffy

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