Staff in Tayside and Fife have been made redundant in the wake of Nicola Sturgeon’s guidance on when non-essential retailers can reopen.
The administrators of Debenhams today announced plans to reopen stores in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for a brief period to sell off stock.
However, the First Minister’s guidance this week that non-essential retailers will open later than other parts of the UK means its Scottish stores will not reopen.
Debenhams – which has shops in the Overgate Shopping Centre, Perth High Street and Dunfermline’s Kingsgate Shopping Centre – was purchased from administration by online retailer Boohoo last month.
But the deal was just for the brand and website, not the physical stores.
The immediate Scottish closures have led to 647 workers being made redundant.
Timeline ‘does not align’ with other parts of UK
The statement from Debenhams said: “Following the announcements of the plans for easing lockdown arrangements, Debenhams confirms that it intends to reopen its stores in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for a short period to complete its stock liquidation process as soon as government restrictions allow.
“In England this is expected to be no earlier than 12 April based on the latest Government guidance.
“In Scotland, the Government has stated that the reopening of non-essential stores will not begin until 26 April at the earliest and that this will then be on a tiered basis.
“Because this timeline does not align with those expected in other parts of the UK and therefore with the planned wind-down of the Debenhams business, regrettably our 15 stores in Scotland will now not reopen and are closed permanently.
“As a result of these closures, all employees in our Scottish stores will be made redundant.
“A number of employees will be retained for a short period of time to support an orderly exit from the stores.
“The total number of Debenhams employees affected is 647.”
‘Regret’ Scottish stores won’t reopen
The department store had a total of 12,000 jobs and 118 stores in the UK.
Boohoo will sell Debenhams products from next year.
The Scottish Government’s road map out of lockdown disappointed other Tayside and Fife retailers.
Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner of FRP Advisory, said: “We regret that Debenhams’ Scottish stores will not be able to reopen.
“We would like to thank all those employees affected for their commitment to Debenhams during what I know has been an extremely unsettling time.”
Overgate’s search for new tenant
Overgate Shopping Centre is in talks with retailers interested in taking over the Debenhams space.
Last month Tom Williams, fund manager, Legal & General Investment Management, which owns the Overgate, expressed his disappointment at the closure.
He said: “Overgate is saddened to hear of the imminent closure of the Debenhams store.
“This is a significant blow to the retail provision in Dundee.
“Our thoughts are very much with the dedicated team of staff who have worked so hard throughout these challenging times to deliver great customer service.”