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Debenhams places ten stores at risk in major review

Company also plans to shut 11 warehouses but stops short of naming specific shops which are threatened

Department store chain Debenhams is closing 11 warehouses and placing ten of its stores under review.

Chief executive Sergio Bucher, who took over the role in October, outlined the overhaul today in the company's interim results which will see the group shut one of its three distribution centres run by DHL, in Northamptonshire.

There are also plans to close ten smaller, in-house warehouses and potentially axe up to ten of its 176 stores over the next five years.

The DHL warehouse employs 220 staff and will shut in two years' time but Debenhams hopes to be able to redeploy many staff affected by the smaller warehouse closures.

Details of his plans came as the listed group announced a 6.4 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to £87.8 million for the six months to March 4.

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Mr Bucher's turnaround will also see the group cull in-house brands and leave some international markets while also shifting around 2,000 staff to customer-facing roles as part of a drive to lure shoppers back to its stores.

This will see the group offer customers experiences as it battles against a wider trend to switch spending away from clothes towards eating out and holidays.

The interim statement said the company would invest in its stores in major shopping destinations where the company saw the greatest opportunity to earn a good return.

Debenhams has a strong West Midlands presence including in the Bullring
Debenhams has a strong West Midlands presence including in the Bullring

The announcement stopped short of naming specific stores for review but Debenhams has outlets in Birmingham's Bullring and the Merry Hill centre, Dudley, both of which could be considered "major shopping destinations".

It also has shops at The Fort shopping park in Castle Bromwich, Walsall, Coventry, Telford, Lichfield and Redditch.

Mr Bucher said: "Our customers are changing the way they shop and we are changing too.

"Shopping with Debenhams should be effortless, reliable and fun, whichever channel our customers use. We will be a destination for 'social shopping' with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with our customers.

"If we deliver differentiated and distinctive brands, services and experiences, both online and in stores, our customers will visit us more frequently and, having simplified our operations to make us more efficient, we will be able to serve them better and make better use of our resources."

The company also plans to "declutter" the store environment with around a ten per cent reduction in stock options and also wants to replenish stock faster.

Debenhams is also planning to test new concepts and formats for stronger and more "relevant brand and category presentation", according to the statement posted to the London Stock Exchange today.

It wants to make additional investment to upgrade mobile systems, supply chain and in the evolving store estate.

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