Debenhams to begin reopening Northern Ireland stores on Monday

Debenhams store on Belfast's Royal Avenue. Picture by Hugh Russell.

Debenhams has confirmed it will begin reopening its stores in Northern Ireland one week ahead of England.

The department chain, which has been run by administrators since April, will reopen its Belfast, Newry and Craigavon outlets on June 8, with its stores in Derry and Ballymena expected to follow in the days after.

It follows confirmation from the executive yesterday that some non-food retailers can reopen from Monday with restrictions.

Debenhams confirmed that it will reopen 50 stores in England on June 15, with the remaining stores following later in the week.

But the retailer said it will only reopen 120 UK stores after a series of closures, having entered the lockdown with 142 stores.

The company’s 11 stores across the border will remain permanently closed following Debenhams’ announcement in April that its operation in the Republic will be liquidated.

The retailer said preparations for the reopenings are “well under way”, with strict social distancing and hygiene procedures being implemented across all stores.

Meanwhile, its stores in Scotland and Wales will reopen once government restrictions are eased, it said.

Steven Cook, managing director at Debenhams, said: “From the installation of Perspex screens at till points to the roll-out of social distancing procedures and PPE, we have been working hard to ensure our colleagues and customers can work and shop with confidence.

“Our reopening plans follow the successful conclusion of lease negotiations on 120 stores, meaning that the vast majority of our stores will be reopening.”

Debenhams was already struggling before the lockdown and fell into administration on April 9 in a protective measure against creditors demanding their money.

Since the coronavirus pandemic shut most non-food retailers, the department store has announced the permanent closure of at least 12 UK stores, with thousands of job losses.

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