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Final Debenhams stores to shut in UK as chain’s 243-year history ends

The retail firm collapsed amid the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Image: PA

DEBENHAMS IS TO shut its doors in the UK for the final time in its 243-year history.

The historic department store chain will close its remaining 28 stores across the UK for good on Saturday after the company collapsed amid the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

It closed 21 of its sites across the UK for the final time on Thursday.

The retailer has suffered slumping sales in recent years as shoppers moved away from traditional department store models.

However, the enforced closure of sites during the pandemic was the final straw, resulting in the company falling into administration within weeks of the virus fully hitting the UK.

The company then started its liquidation process at the start of this year after failing to secure a rescue sale.

Debenhams, which employed more than 20,000 people before the pandemic, sold its brand and website to online giant Boohoo for £55 million in January but confirmed its bricks and mortar business would close for good.

It reopened sites from April 12 after the reopening of essential retail in order to clear stock across its stores.

Debenhams protests

It comes as former Debenhams workers in Ireland continue to protest against the liquidation of the company.

In late April, protests at a Debenhams store in Dublin saw Gardaí remove a number of workers from the store, with four people being arrested in the process.

While the four arrested were later released, Mandate Trade Union, who represent the Debenhams workers, criticised the “heavy-handed tactics” of the Gardaí.

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In a statement after the protest, Mandate General Secretary Gerry Light said that the incident should not have happened in the first place.

“This incident should never have happened. The workers had decided to ballot for a potential resolution to this dispute at 4:30pm yesterday and then we see these traumatic videos last night where female retail workers, who were treated abysmally by their employer and left without their agreed redundancy packages, are being manhandled and dragged away from their picket line,” said Light.

Debenhams originally told staff on 9 April last year that the company was going into liquidation, and that their shops would not be reopening.

Protestors, many of whom are former workers with Debenhams, have been protesting to stop the removal of stock from shops in Dublin and Cork.

With reporting by Tadgh McNally

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