Debenhams has announced that it is permanently closing its stores in Ireland, and that the business here is going into liquidation.
In a statement released today Debenhams said that their operation in Ireland were already experiencing “trading challenges” which have been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19.
The chain operates 11 stores in Ireland, including one in the Corrib Shopping Centre in Galway City.
It’s expected that a liquidator will be appointed for the chain’s Irish operations, and that the majority of stores in the Republic will not reopen after the current crisis has passed.
Stefaan Vansteenkiste, CEO of Debenhams, said: “We are desperately sorry not to be able to keep the Irish business operating but are faced with no alternative option in the current environment.
This decision has not been taken lightly and is no way a reflection on our Irish colleagues, whose professionalism and commitment to serving our customers has never been in question.
The colleagues have been placed on temporary lay-off under the Irish Government’s payment support schemes for employers and we will be working with them to support them through this process.”
The trade union Mandate said that almost 2,000 jobs will be lost as a result of this, calling it the “first major casualty” of the coronavirus crisis.
John Douglas, Mandate General Secretary, said that they knew the company wasn’t trading well, but that this news has come as a “massive shock” to their members.
“Our sympathy is with each and every worker and their families who will today be wondering how they’re going to pay their rent, mortgage or their bills.”
He added, “We are in close contact with the company and will remain so over the forthcoming process.
“We will be seeking a meeting with the liquidator when they are appointed and demanding that our members are prioritised throughout the liquidation process so that we can get the best possible deal for them.”