Debenhams’ Shock Exit from Australia

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 03 Jul 2019

The British department store, Debenhams’ only store in Australia is set to close in early 2020. Located in St Collins Lane, the department store will be shutting its doors and abandoning the Australian market entirely.

The brief stint began in 2017, selling clothing of its own brand and luxury designers. In its inception, the store was aimed at being the ‘only one of its kind’, with new technology introduced to attract customers.

The store included a core focus on women’s and men’s fashion, with a MAC ‘concept’ store on the Ground level of the department store. With click-and-collect service desks right next to the change rooms, customers were encouraged to try on the clothes they ordered, and let them return them immediately if they didn’t fit, in a bid to ‘not waste time’.

Unfortunately, the store’s success was not as impactful as expected. This closure comes just three months after Debenhams’ shareholders voted for a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which essentially puts the fate of the department store into the hands of its lenders. As a result, the CEO, Sergio Bucher, resigned and the company ultimately entered voluntary administration.

The closure of the store isn’t as unexpected as some may think. In April, Debenhams announced it would be closing 22 of its British stores with hopes to save money across the board and survive its online competition.

Debenhams was founded in 1778 by William Clark, who began trading in London. The department stores sell a range of designer clothes, furniture and household items. However, the store in Australia is dedicated to clothing and beauty.

The announcement was made via an email, which was sent to Debenhams’ customers. “Our appreciation of your loyalty and support is top of mind for us right now. Thanks for supporting us,” read the email. Debenhams in Melbourne will close its doors in the New Year 2020, read the email.

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