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CoronavirusHigh Street

Covid-19: Debenhams, Ted Baker and The Works latest to close stores

Debenhams, Ted Baker and The Works are some of the latest retailers to close stores amid the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the UK.

Debenhams said it took the “tough decision” to close stores yesterday evening as a result of the current circumstances, but hopes to reopen as soon as it is “practically and safely possible”. Customers will still be able to shop with the retailer through its website.

It added that throughout these “very difficult times”, the safety and wellbeing of its colleagues and customers has been of “paramount importance”.

It said in a statement: “Our store colleagues have continued to demonstrate the highest professionalism and commitment and we will be working with them to support them through this process.”

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the Ted Baker’s retail stores and concessions have now closed, around 384 locations out of a total 416 locations globally. These represented approximately 68% of Ted Baker’s global retail sales in FY2020.

However, the group said its e-commerce channel has proved “much more resilient” and the performance in the financial year to date (last eight weeks) has been up 16% on last year, albeit with some “variability across recent weeks”.

Ted Baker said its e-commerce service continues to operate for customers as normal, and is a channel the group will be “intensively managing” during this period of store closures.

Rachel Osborne, acting CEO, said: “The spread of Covid-19 has led to some unprecedented events around the world and uncertainty for our business and our people.

“We welcome the support packages so far announced by Governments and continue to focus on keeping our customers and employees safe and all of our stakeholders informed.”

Additionally, discount retailer The Works has also closed stores, which it said would help encourage social distancing for the safety and wellbeing of its colleagues, customers and the wider community.

It comes as trading in the nine weeks since the group’s last update on Thursday 16 January 2020 to Sunday 15 March 2020 remained “strong”, with LFL sales growth of 2.9%.  This strong growth was delivered across both stores and online.

The Works said: “The group notes and appreciates the various actions taken by the Government to support businesses and their employees during these challenging times.

“The reduction in business rates is expected to provide a monthly cash saving of c£1.2m, while the temporary deferral of HMRC payments will contribute positively to our short-term cash flow.”

It continued: “The announced support for payment of wages for colleagues is welcomed. However, there remains significant details to work through to fully understand the impact of all of these measures on the group.”

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