In Brief

Beleagured Debenhams set to close ten stores

Company's shares plunge more than six per cent after it reports drop in profits

Department store Debenhams could "close up to ten stores and 11 warehouses" as part of a new turnaround plan, says The Guardian.

It could also exit several "non-core" international markets, reducing its current footprint of 82 stores around the world, adds the BBC.

The restructuring is being proposed after the company announced its pre-tax profit fell more than six per cent to £87.8 million in the six months to 4 March.

Its share price was down almost six per cent in afternoon trading in London, to 51.8p.

The Guardian said that former Amazon executive Sergio Bucher, who joined as chief executive in October, has identified ten out of Debenhams' 165 shops that are "at risk of falling into a loss in the next five years".

Bucher said these shops "could be closed or converted to outlet stores".

The warehouse closures include Lodge Farm in Northamptonshire, one of Debenhams' three main warehouses, which employs about 200 people. 

The ten smaller warehouses are all run by logistics company DHL.

All affected staff will be redeployed into stores – along with 2,000 back-office staff who are being moved into customer service roles.

Sir Ian Cheshire, chairman of Debenhams, told the BBC that "this is a strategy about growth", not job losses, and the plans should lead to the creation of more jobs.

He said Debenhams was responding to changes in shopping habits to leisure spending and online purchasing.

"In an effort to capture this market, Debenhams plans to step up investment in its in-store cafes, restaurants and beauty services," the BBC added.

Cheshire said: "People really still enjoy the social aspect to shopping and that can be the traditional version, which is that you go out with some friends and you have a coffee, or a glass of prosecco or something like that and you really browse the store."

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