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Purchased by Boohoo, what happens to Debenhams?

View profile for Claudia Hubert
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Purchased by Boohoo, what happens to Debenhams?

Debenhams will shortly be disappearing from the high street and relaunching as an online-only business as a result of the £55 million Boohoo deal agreed by Debenhams’ administrators.

Debenhams has been struggling for some time, with falling profits and rising debts as a result of the pandemic and shopping moving online. Debenhams has been forced to call in administrators twice in two years, most recently in April 2020.

A closing-down sale at 124 Debenhams stores began in December 2020 whilst the administrators continued to seek offers for parts of or all of the business. The administrators warned that the business was likely to close for good by March 2021 if it could not find a buyer.

Debenhams is set to relaunch on the Boohoo technology platform between Spring and Summer. Once stores are able to reopen with the pandemic guidelines, the stock liquidation can continue and a closing down sale will commence for several weeks until this is complete. 

The value of the stock will then be retained for the creditors of Debenhams. All UK stores will then be permanently closed, but it is thought that the remaining stores will likely be broken up and sold to the likes of Mike Ashley’s Frasers group.  

What does this mean for gift cards?

Debenhams continued to accept gift cards in December 2020 when the closing-down sale began, but later in the month it stopped accepting them online and in stores.

It appears the gift card ban will continue following the Boohoo deal, and there is very little that can be done by shoppers to try and recoup the value from the gift cards. 

It is permitted for administrators to stop accepting gift cards in this type of situation as gift cards afford no guaranteed protection if a company enters administration.

What about returns?

Full refunds will be provided for online returns provided:

  • it has been less than 28 days since you received the item, 
  • it is resalable and not damaged, 
  • you have the proof of purchase, 
  • you have the card you paid with, and 
  • the item must also be included within Debenhams’ returns policy, which can be found on their website.

It is worth returning any items you would like to take back as soon as possible given the current uncertainty.

Any purchases made in store on or after 26 December 2020 that are faulty, misdescribed or under warranty can be returned for one-week from stores reopening after lockdown. For purchases where the consumer has simply changed their mind, refunds will no longer be provided.

Debenhams are yet to comment on what the case will be for items purchased in store before 26 December 2020.

Will insurance still be valid?

If you have travel, pet, car or gadget insurance with Debenhams, they stated in December 2020 that you would continue to be covered because the insurance is underwritten by a third party. It is unclear whether this is still the case however.

I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01245 453810 or claudia.hubert@birkettlong.co.uk.

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