Dec 1, 2020

What went wrong at Debenhams?

Debenhams is set to close all of its 124 stores after last-ditch efforts to rescue the department store chain failed. Experts say Debenhams has fallen behind with fashion trends over the last decade, a problem familiar to other mid-market High Street retailers such as M&S. Maureen Hinton or retail consultancy GlobalData says it lacked products that differentiated it, which left it exposed when dynamic new brands, many of them operating purely online, started breaking through. "Back in the 1990s they had Designers at Debenhams, where designers would do in-house ranges for them. That was a good differentiator but they never moved on," she says. Compounding all of this, Debenhams failed to invest in online at time when more and more shopping was being done on the web, says retail analyst Richard Hyman. Sir Ian Cheshire, Debenhams' former chairman, told the BBC that its shops became a "Straitjacket" and the retailer would have been better off with just 70.

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