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UK department store Debenhams collapses putting 12,000 jobs at risk

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By Tokunbo Salako  & AP
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UK department store Debenhams is to close its doors, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
UK department store Debenhams is to close its doors, putting thousands of jobs at risk.   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

In another blow to the UK's hard-hit retail sector, one of the country's oldest department stores is closing its doors, putting more than 12,000 jobs at risk.

Debenhams dates back to 1778 when William Clark set up a store in London's West End selling fabrics, bonnets, gloves and parasols.

Many of its stores were overrun by bargain-hungry shoppers on Wednesday as they sought to take advantage of a "firesale" to sell off stock and liquidate the business before the store locks its doors for good.

Experts say the company has struggled to respond to the increased competition from low-cost rivals and online retailers. The news came hours after its parent company Arcadia Group, the retail empire of billionaire Philip Green, went into administration, a type of bankruptcy protection. There are hopes that some of Arcadia's businesses and 13,000 jobs can be saved by potential buyers.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown dealt the final blow.

Personal finance expert Sue Hayward told Euronews that shopping on British and European high streets in the future will change dramatically post-pandemic.

"The collapse of Debenhams is another unwelcome sign that no store is too big to fail," said Hayward, adding they struggle to compete with low-cost rivals like Primark, as well as from online disruptors such as ASOS and Boohoo.

Watch the full interview with Hayward in the video player, above.