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Exclusive: Debenhams liquidates Irish business

Debenhams directors will commence a liquidation process on its Irish, Hong Kong and Bangladesh businesses today, after its UK arm collapsed into administration last week.

The struggling department store group appointed advisory firm FRP Advisory as administrators on 9 April, in order to protect the UK business from liquidation.

This morning Kieran Wallace and Andrew O’Leary of accountancy firm KPMG were appointed as joint provisional liquidators of the Irish business. This will impact 958 direct employees, and 300 employees by concession partners.

Meanwhile, in a letter seen by Drapers, Debenhams said that having taken advice from Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory’s restructuring practice, its directors have decided to commence a liquidation process on Debenhams Hong Kong Limited, which includes its Hong Kong and Bangladesh sourcing offices.

The resolutions to commence the liquidation process also took place today, where the employment contracts of all 48 Hong Kong employees were terminated. In the Bangladesh offices all 69 employees were terminated.


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Readers' comments (3)

  • As the employees of Debenhams Hong Kong Limited, which is technically one of the business unit with key function of sourcing in Far East under Debenhams Retail Limited.

    We are writing here because it was a shock for us to receive an email from Steven Cook, Managing Director for Fashion, Home & Beauty on Wed 15-Apr 2020 20:53 HK time (13:53 UK time) informing that Debenhams Hong Kong Limited should commence the liquidation process and the employment contracts of all Debenhams HK’s employees are terminated with immediate effect. It says that the email serves as formal notice due to the COVID-19 situation prevents them from meeting at the office to deliver the news in person.

    Around 15 minutes after the email was sent, all Debenhams Hong Kong employees were asked to attend a video call from the Debenhams Hong Kong management team. During the call, the spokeswoman just repeated what is mentioned in the email. But the most importantly, she told all Debenhams Hong Kong employees that the financial situation may not be able pay the employees' any outstanding such as salaries, paid holidays, in lieu payment notice, etc.

    It was a huge surprised & totally unbelievable for us since we kept on receiving the updates from Stefaan Vansteenkiste, CEO who clearly stated that the Company is doing everything to protect the creditors & employees. Even the last update on Fri 10-April 2020, he highlighted “Company has the money inside the company to be able to make the payroll, enter into administration does not change anything about this…” However, with their decision to their employees in HK, we are not going to get any pay or compensation. Debenhams Hong Kong Limited is one of the business unit under Debenhams Retail making no profit but as a cost center supporting UK for direct sourcing with suppliers in Far East. Not sure how much assets can be liquidated within the Debenhams Hong Kong.

    As a result, Debenhams UK can easily to walk away legally without caring of their employees in Far East which is totally different from what they highlighted and deliver to the public. It is unethical and so unfair for us to be treated in the way they said they won’t do it for their employees… is it because we are not living in UK, not UK citizens?

    The Company (Debenhams Retail Limited) is on purpose to put the life of the employees at financially risk under the current situation of COVID-19 all over the world & we want people to understand how we are being cheated from the communication till the termination. As a responsible employer, they should treat people like how they like to be treated, going for formal process of lay off not going for liquidation to make us got nothing from what we worked.

    We hope publish this news to the public and help us to get what we supposed to get as we are in desperate situation.

    On behalf of
    Debenhams Hong Kong Limited Employees

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  • Hunger is stronger than any pandemic, don't let us starve.

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  • #DEBENHAMS “Do a bit of Ethics” to your Bangladesh Employees by giving our well-deserved rights.


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