Debenhams has announced it will be reopening 50 of its stores across England from Monday 15 June.
Last month, prime minister Boris Johnson provided an update on the easing of lockdown restrictions across England.
As part of the new measures, it was declared that non-essential retail would be permitted to resume operations from 15 June under the condition that shops have been made “Covid-secure”.
In addition to other retail stores, Debenhams has stated that it plans on reopening 50 of its shops in just under two week’s time, with three stores in Northern Ireland scheduled to reopen on 8 June.
In total, the retailer plans on reopening 120 stores, despite having entered lockdown with 142 branches.
In April, it was reported that the company had gone into administration, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
FRP Advisory was appointed to oversee the process, which involved the company’s Irish business, which employed 1,400 staff, ceasing trading.
Commenting on the reopening of stores in England, Debenhams managing director Steven Cook explained the social distancing measures that are being put in place to protect customers and employees.
“We are delighted to be welcoming customers back to our stores in the coming weeks,” Mr Cook 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.”
Mr Cook added that the plan to reopen stores follows “the successful conclusion of lease negotiations on 120 stores, meaning that the vast majority of our stores will be reopening”.
Despite 50 stores in England being reopened from 15 June, it has been reported that hundreds of Debenhams store staff have been made redundant.
In an email sent to Debenhams staff, chief executive officer Stefaan Vansteenkiste stated that the company is “unable to keep people on furlough if there is no job for them to return to”.
“This means unfortunately that additional redundancies are required in stores and at the support centre,” he stated.
A Debenhams spokesperson said that the firm’s plans to reopen the majority of its stores “are well underway”.
“In the context of a retail industry undergoing profound change, the management team is working on the future shape of the group, with a view to seeking an exit from administration as a going concern,” they said.
“With a leaner and more flexible operating model, Debenhams will have the ability to adapt to what are likely to be fundamental shifts in the future trading environment.”