DEBENHAMS’ owners have begun drawing up plans for the liquidation of the 242-year-old department store chain in a move that could trigger the single-biggest jobs cull of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sky News has learnt that Debenhams has appointed Hilco Capital, which specialises in helping to wind down distressed retail businesses, to work with it in the event that a sale process for one of Britain’s best-known retailers ends in failure.
Hilco’s role was described this weekend as “contingency planning” by people close to the company as it seeks to secure its future ahead of the crucial pre-Christmas trading period.
Debenhams employs roughly 14,000 people, having announced this week that it was shedding a further 2500 members of its workforce.
The chain, which trades from just over 120 stores across the UK, had already axed more than 4,000 jobs since the pandemic struck.
The liquidation of its stock and other assets would inevitably spell grim news for most of Debenhams’s remaining staff.
Since the start of the pandemic, British Airways’ proposal to cut 12,000 jobs – a figure which remains under review and is expected to be reduced – has been the largest prospective cull by a UK-based company.