Timeline: Where did Debenhams begin and what lead to the chain’s collapse?
PUBLISHED: 12:31 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:30 25 October 2018
With Debenhams announcing the closure of 50 under-performing stores today, we take a look at the chain’s humble beginnings before growing to be a pillar of the British High Street, and the events leading up to today’s announcement:
• 1778 - William Clark opens a drapers store selling expensive fabrics and accessories in London’s West End.
• 1813 - William Debenham invests in Clark’s firm and it becomes Clark and Debenham. It opens its first shop outside the capital five years later in Cheltenham.
• 1920 - The now limited business purchases retailer Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge.
• 1950 - The retailer becomes the largest department store in the UK, owning 84 companies and 110 outlets.
• 2013 - After decades of growth, sales start to slide and the company announces a profit warning, amounting to a 26% plunge.
• January 2015 - A curb on promotions boosts Christmas sales for Debenhams, but fails to stave off questions about turnaround plans.
• May 2016 - Amazon Fashion boss Sergio Bucher is confirmed as Debenham’s new chief executive.
• October 2016 - A slump in full-year profits is reported, down 10.4% before tax.
• April 2017 - Debenhams reveals plans to put 10 stores under review and says it is closing 11 warehouses, including one of its major distribution centres employing 220 staff.
• October 2017 - The retailer reports a collapse in annual pre-tax profits, tanking 44% to £59 million in the year to September 2.
• February - It is announced 320 store management roles are to be slashed.
• June - Debenhams issues its third profit warning of the year.
• August - The retailer announces it will axe up to 90 staff as it enters redundancy talks.
• October - Shares plunge 17% after KPMG is called in to help draft emergency plans to save the high-street giant. Plans are unveiled for 50 shops to be closed, threatening 4,000 jobs.