Debenhams has undergone huge changes in its long and storied history. The former department store chain was founded in 1778 as a drapers’ store in London. It went on to become one of the largest department store operators in the UK, selling a range of clothing, household goods and furniture from more than 150 branches at its height.
The retailer became one of the most famous names on the high street, but it struggled to adapt to changing shopper habits and the move to ecommerce. Its board restructured in 2017 into three distinct business departments - fashion and home, beauty and beauty services and food and events - in a bid to make the business more relevant to contemporary consumers. The retailer also looked to replace old systems and automate its supply chain to keep up with rivals, but the added costs only heaped pressure on the brand.
The retailer collapsed into administration and underwent a CVA in 2019 as it grappled to stay afloat. In January 2021, the Debenhams brand and website was acquired by online rival Boohoo for £55m. The retailer’s remaining stores were shuttered in May 2021, bringing the curtain down on almost 250 years as one of the most well-known names on the Great British high street.