Breaking: Bedford Debenhams set to close as retail chain collapses


Bedford’s Debenhams will close, after last-ditch efforts to rescue the chain failed.

After Debenhams went into administration for a second time in April, it was hoped that a rescue package from JD Sports could save the remaining 124 Debenhams stores.

However, yesterday’s collapse of Arcadia has had a knock-on effect as they are the biggest concession operator in Debenhams.

The Dorothy Perkins and Wallis concessions in the Bedford branch are the last remnants of Arcadia brands in the town.

The stores’ closures in early 2021 will be mean that 12,000 employees will likely lose their jobs.

According to information on the BBC News website, staff at Debenhams were told this morning and the liquidators will enter stores tomorrow to begin removing stock.

The struggling retailer had already closed a number of its stores, including the large Milton Keynes branch at the intu centre.

Back in August, the Bedford store seemed to bucking the trend, as a new manger was appointed.

Read: ‘Dream come true’ as Bedfordian takes over at Debenhams

However, local loyalty is not enough to save the nationwide chain.

Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, a joint administrator to Debenhams, said in a statement: “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams.

“However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.

“We are very grateful for the efforts of the management team and staff who have worked so hard throughout the most difficult of circumstances to keep the business trading.

“We would also like to thank the landlords, suppliers and partners who have continued to work with Debenhams through this turbulent period and can reassure them that all contractual obligations entered into in the administration period will be met in full.”

Bedford BID declined to comment on the announcement specifically, saying, “We are continuing to promote our favourite town centre department store as a great place to visit when shopping in Bedford this Christmas.”

Commenting on the news, Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford and Kempston, said, “It’s devastating news for the staff and the Government must ensure that every effort is being made to save jobs and guarantee the funding of the pension scheme.”

He urged the government to develop a recovery plan for high streets and retail, pointing out that the sector was already struggling even before the pandemic.

“There are substantial issues that have long needed to be addressed likes rents, rates and taxation, to create a level playing field between high streets and online retail,” said Mr Yasin.

“With creative thinking on how we might repurpose our town centres and community spaces, our high streets and jobs can be saved but the Government must provide local government with the investment funding it so desperately needs to tackle this issue.”

We will bring more news and reaction throughout the day…

Updated at 12:29: The line ‘The stores’ closures in early 2021 will be mean that 12,000 employees will likely lose their jobs’ was edited to reflect that the stores will close in Q1 of the new year

Updated at 14:11 to include a comment from Mohammad Yasin MP