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Debenhams isn’t working on a CVA but store closures are coming

Debenhams has confirmed it will close a number of its stores in the UK, but has denied that the company is actively planning to do so through an insolvency process.

The company chairman, Sir Ian Cheshire has released a statement following reports that Debenhams was working with advisory firm KPMG on a company voluntary arrangement to enable it to exit unwanted properties and negotiate rent cuts across groups of stores.

Cheshire told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “simply not true” that Debenhams was “actively working” on a CVA.

However, he did admit that Debenhams was likely to have fewer stores in future and was “working through what’s appropriate” in terms of closures over the longer term. The retailer said last year that it would close up to ten stores, and has already shut two.

Cheshire said that “capacity would leave the market” but insisted that Debenhams and the department store format in general was not dead as long as it continued to update itself for the 21st century.

“There will be winners and losers. There is room for a Selfridges of the high street that brings newness and fashion and beauty,” he said.

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