Debenhams: Welsh stores face permanent closure

Exempt from a business rates holiday in Wales, Debenhams has reportedly deemed it economically unviable to continue trading the majority of our Welsh business

Written by Georgie Dobie

Posted 27.04.2020 | Retail

Debenhams: Welsh stores face permanent closure thumbnail

BBC News has reported that Mark Gifford, chairman of Debenhams, has warned that Welsh stores may have to close permanently unless the Welsh government reverses a decision on business rates relief.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has granted a business rates holiday to all retail, leisure and hospitality firms for a year just as the coronavirus crisis escalated in the UK. 

Wales initially said it would match these plans but then changed the threshold for those eligible; Wales has decided not to extend relief to properties with a rateable value of £500,000 and above. It said the change means business rates would be used for grants to small firms. 

BBC News speaks of a letter seen by the BBC from the Debenhams' chairman to Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans, in which Gifford says that the move threatens the viability of its biggest stores in Wales in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Wrexham and Llandudno.  

The letter from Mark Gifford reportedly said: "It is deeply regrettable that, by electing to take a different approach to that taken elsewhere in the UK, you have made it economically unviable for us to continue trading the majority of our Welsh business.  

"You have failed to understand the situation, where Debenhams Retail Limited is in administration and will cease to pay business rates unless it chooses to reopen its stores in Wales.  

"It will be unable to reopen its stores unless you reverse your decision."  

Meanwhile, it has emerged that four more Debenhams stores will not reopen post-lockdown, after the business failed to agree deals with landlords. 

The shops are in Southampton, Swindon, Kidderminster and Borehamwood.


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