- Debenhams closed all of its physical stores in May 2021 after 242 years of operation.
- However, the Debenhams brand was acquired by Boohoo in January 2021.
- Debenhams continues to trade online under Boohoo’s ownership.
- The website debenhams.com remains operational, selling various products.
- Some Debenhams concessions also continue to trade in stores like Selfridges.
The name Debenhams invokes memories of bustling department stores brimming with fashion, beauty, and homeware. For over two centuries, Debenhams department stores graced high streets and shopping centers across the UK. But in recent years, with the decline of brick-and-mortar retail, the Debenhams brand has undergone major changes. This raises the key question – are Debenhams still trading?
This article will provide a comprehensive evaluation of Debenhams’ current status. It outlines the store closures in 2021 after falling into administration, the acquisition by online retailer Boohoo, and how the brand trades online today. Relevant statistics and timelines highlight Debenhams’ transformation in the changing retail landscape. The analysis aims to definitively answer whether Debenhams still operates and in what form.
The insights will enable readers to understand what happened to this stalwart department store brand. It will clarify if and how shoppers can still access Debenhams despite its physical stores being shuttered. For those nostalgic for this vintage British retailer, the content offers a helpful update on its ongoing presence.
Store Closures in 2021 After 242 Years of Trading
Debenhams announced in December 2020 that it would start a liquidation process in 2021 after failing to secure a rescue deal. The company had already entered administration in April 2020 for the second time in a year. By May 2021, Debenhams permanently closed the doors of its last remaining stores after 242 years as a British retail institution.
At its peak, Debenhams operated 178 stores across the UK and Ireland and employed around 12,000 people. The mass closures ended the retailer’s historic run on the high street. After recording £491 million in losses in 2018, Debenhams succumbed to the pressures reshaping the sector. The rise of ecommerce giants and decline of in-store shopping proved difficult for the department store chain.
Acquisition by Boohoo and Continued Online Trading
However, the Debenhams brand did not disappear entirely. Online fashion retailer Boohoo purchased the Debenhams name, website, and other intellectual property in January 2021 for £55 million. This allowed Debenhams to continue trading online under new ownership.
Boohoo relaunched Debenhams.com in May 2021 as an online-only operation. The website remains active today, offering fashion, beauty, accessories, homeware, and other products. Customers can shop current ranges and new collections across various departments. Debenhams also has a mobile app enabling shopping on the go.
The brand also retains a presence in some third-party stores. Around 60 Debenhams beauty halls and fashion concessions continue to trade in retailers like Selfridges and NEXT. So shoppers still have some access to Debenhams through select physical outlets.
Overall, Debenhams operates primarily online after Boohoo’s takeover. It adapted its business model to survive without its famous department stores.
Key Statistics on Debenhams’ Decline and Transformation
- Debenhams entered administration on April 9, 2020, putting 142 stores and 22,000 jobs at risk. It was the biggest retail collapse of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time.
- At least 25,000 Debenhams workers lost jobs following the liquidation and store closures in 2021 based on union estimates. The company employed around 12,000 people at its peak.
- Debenhams recorded pre-tax losses of £491 million in 2018 and more than £1 billion in debt when it entered administration for the second time in 2020.
- Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand, website, and intellectual property for £55 million in January 2021. This was in a pre-pack administration deal.
- In May 2021, Debenhams shut its last remaining stores after operating on UK high streets for 242 years. It started trading in 1778.
- Debenhams.com relaunched online in May 2021 and continues to offer an ecommerce site and mobile app for shoppers.
- Around 60 Debenhams beauty and fashion concessions still trade today in retailers like Selfridges according to reports.
What Does This Mean for Shoppers and the Brand?
For shoppers, Debenhams still exists but primarily as an online department store after previously being a high street stalwart. Shoppers can browse and buy products through debenhams.com or the Debenhams app. But the in-store experience that defined Debenhams for over two centuries is gone.
For the brand, trading online opens new opportunities to reinvent itself. With lower overheads than physical stores, Debenhams can reshape itself into a leaner, more competitive ecommerce retailer. Partnering with Boohoo also allows Debenhams to tap into modern fashion and reach a younger audience.
However, Debenhams faces challenges in standing out in the crowded online space. Rebuilding brand awareness and loyalty without its flagship stores will be a key priority. Overall, Debenhams remains in operation but still faces uncertainty about its long-term future under new management.
What Products Does Debenhams Still Sell Online?
Debenhams continues to offer a comprehensive range of products across categories like fashion, beauty, accessories, lingerie, sportswear, homeware, and more. Some examples of key departments shoppers can still browse online include:
Women’s, Men’s, and Children’s Fashion
- Clothing – dresses, shirts, jeans, trousers, skirts, tops, swimwear, underwear
- Shoes – boots, sandals, trainers, heels
- Bags – handbags, purses, luggage, backpacks
- Accessories – hats, scarves, gloves, sunglasses
- Occasionwear – prom dresses, wedding outfits
Beauty and Fragrance
- Skincare – cleansers, moisturizers, serums
- Makeup – foundation, lipstick, mascara, eyeshadow
- Fragrance – women’s perfume, men’s cologne, gift sets
- Electrical beauty – hair dryers, straighteners, curlers
- Bath and body – soaps, lotions, shower gels
Homeware and Furniture
- Bedding – duvets, pillows, mattresses
- Bathroom – towels, bath mats
- Kitchen – tableware, appliances
- Lighting – lamps, bulbs, chandeliers
- Furniture – sofas, beds, wardrobes, chests
- Bras – T-shirt, strapless, sports, push-up
- Underwear – briefs, thongs, shorts, multi-packs
- Nightwear – pajama sets, nightdresses, dressing gowns
- Socks and tights – hold-ups, leggings, shaping tights
- Swimwear – bikinis, tankinis, swimsuits
The wide product selection seeks to retain Debenhams’ department store heritage and appeal to varied customer interests. However, the lack of in-store displays and ability to see, touch, and try on items poses a challenge.
What Happened to Debenhams’ Loyalty Program and Gift Cards?
After Debenhams entered administration in 2020, the validity of its loyalty cards and gift cards came into question. However, Boohoo’s acquisition of Debenhams offered some clarity.
Here are the key points on how these programs were handled:
- The Debenhams loyalty card program shut down in 2021 and is no longer active. Outstanding points held by customers expired.
- Debenhams stopped selling gift cards when it entered administration in April 2020.
- Gift cards purchased before administration were honored until June 30, 2021 only on Debenhams.com. After this date, they became invalid.
- Customers had over 12 months to spend any unused gift card balances before the June 2021 deadline.
So while Debenhams continues to trade online, the transition impacted its loyalty schemes and gift card program. Yet Boohoo’s takeover enabled redemption during the wind-down period, offering some resolution.
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How Does Debenhams Online Compare to its Former Stores?
Debenhams.com aims to capture some of the beloved department store’s spirit while optimizing for ecommerce. Some key differences shoppers may notice include:
- Stores offered immersive shopping across departments and brand concessions. The website and app provide a single digital marketplace.
- Knowledgeable store assistants offered personalized service like makeup consultations. Online lacks human interaction but provides AI-powered tools like chatbots.
- Stores had elaborate window displays and festive Christmas experiences. The website focuses on efficient search and navigation rather than ambiance.
Trial and Collections
- In-store shoppers could try on clothing and beauty products before buying. Online shopping precludes trying before you buy and makes returns processes crucial.
- Stores stocked wider product ranges with concessions like Clinique counters. Online offers a curated edit of top-selling lines.
Prices and Discounts
- Stores enabled price comparisons and benefited from foot traffic. Online pricing aims to be competitive against rival retailers through discounts.
While recreating 230 years of heritage fully online is challenging, Debenhams.com retains the domain authority of the trusted brand name. It also benefits from lower overheads and wider customer reach than stores. However, the convenience and experiential aspects of stores remain lacking.
What Does The Future Hold for Debenhams Under Boohoo?
The future remains uncertain for Debenhams under Boohoo’s ownership. However, industry analysts offer some predictions on potential strategies.
- Integrating Debenhams’ online operations into Boohoo could generate synergies across ecommerce infrastructure, supply chain, and back-end processes.
- Boohoo may build partnerships between Debenhams and its other brands like PrettyLittleThing to enhance product ranges.
- Investing in areas like personalization and mobile optimization could help better compete with rivals online.
- Limited store concessions may remain worthwhile as marketing tools and to aid brand awareness.
- International expansion through localized sites and languages could help growth, as Debenhams had a limited overseas presence.
- Transitioning Debenhams to an online-only marketplace model, with external sellers similar to Amazon Marketplace, is a possibility.
Overall, Debenhams’ survival under Boohoo offers opportunities to maximize ecommerce in ways its store business could not. However, the path ahead remains filled with uncertainty as consumer needs and the wider retail landscape continue to rapidly evolve.
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In 2021, Debenhams shut its last remaining stores after a 242-year presence on British high streets. However, the brand lives on mainly as an online retailer following its acquisition by Boohoo. Debenhams continues to trade through its website and mobile app, selling fashion, beauty, accessories, homeware, and other products. With lower operating costs than physical stores, Debenhams aims to find its footing in ecommerce under new ownership.
While its famous stores are gone, Debenhams still retains relevance and an opportunity for reinvigoration online. For shoppers, Debenhams exists in a transformed format optimized for 2022 and beyond. With investment and innovation from Boohoo, Debenhams hopes to flourish in its new strictly digital incarnation.