Debenhams calls in KPMG to assess options amid profit warnings

PUBLISHED: 11:52 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:55 11 September 2018

Debenhams in Welwyn Garden City

Debenhams in Welwyn Garden City

Alan Davies

Debenhams has brought in advisors from auditor KPMG to assess its options after issuing three profit warnings this year.

The department store previously said that its pre-tax profits would come in between £35million and £40million – below previous estimates of £50.3million – and blamed “increased competitor discounting and weakness in key markets”.

Over the weekend it announced the auditor had been appointed, but a spokesperson said: “Like all companies, Debenhams frequently works with different advisors on various projects in the normal course of business.”

It is unclear what impact the move may have on the store in Stonehills, Welwyn Garden City.

Welwyn Hatfield Chamber of Commerce chairman, Nick Brown, said: “The experience of other WGC retailers is that we are good customers and we spend more per head than other areas.

“However, if we want to keep Debenhams, now is the time to act.

“The council has the powers to reduce their business rates, which must be significant, and we have ability to at least visit and see what they have on offer.”

He also warned of a “domino effect” if retailers close, with less people visiting the town centre impacting the remaining businesses.

In the last year alone, nearly 10 businesses with Welwyn Hatfield shops have announced nationwide closures or entered into company voluntary arrangements (CVA).

They include Carpetright, Prezzo, Poundworld, New Look, Marks & Spencer, Homebase, Lloyds Pharmacy, Next and Carphone Warehouse.

However, most of the planned closures have not yet hit the companies’ local operations.

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