DEBENHAMS has announced it will close up to 50 stores in the UK placing over 4,000 jobs at risk.
The major high street retailer has 166 branches across the country – including Leamington and Stratford.
The company has not yet revealed which stores will be closed in a programme of cutbacks over the next three to five years.
The move follows a sales slump in the year to September and record annual losses.
A Debenhams spokesperson said: “We have identified up to 50 stores, accounting for under 15 per cent of total sales, which are currently profitable, but where we do not see a long-term future and which we intend to exit over the next three to five years.
“This is an ongoing five-year programme and we are not disclosing a list of these stores.”
Debenhams is the latest high street chain to announce store closures and falling sales, with many blaming the rise of online retail. House of Fraser is among others.
Shop workers’ trade union Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) has urged Debenhams to recognise it as the official trade union representative of the company’s staff.
It wants to protect staff and give them a voice in the future of the business.
Usdaw national officer Dave Gill says: “This is clearly devastating news for the staff and we are deeply concerned that the company has not said which stores they are planning to close, so uncertainty hangs over every Debenhams store and shopworker.
“We are urging the management to get round the table with us so we can work together to turn the business around.
“Crucial to the future of the company is the staff and their voice should be heard, they must also be treated with dignity and respect and that is best done through their trade union Usdaw.
“We are providing our members with the support and advice they need at this very difficult time.”