Debenhams is understood to have been hit by a string of delays to upcoming schemes it is due to anchor as the slowdown hits property developers hard.

About half of the developers it has signed pipeline deals with are believed to be late completing. This has been attributed to a range of problems hitting projects and the increasing heat being felt by the property sector as a whole.

17 developments that Debenhams have signed for are on site, including Modus’s Houndshill centre in Blackpool, which will open next week.
At the schemes where construction has yet to start, there have been several delays. Multi Development’s Summer Row in Wolverhampton has been delayed by a legal challenge and only just been given the go-ahead, and Standard Life and Shearer’s joint venture, Parkway in Newbury, is up in the air while discussions are taking place with contractors.

The delays will be a blow to Debenhams, with five of its pipeline stores now likely to be late or shelved indefinitely.

“It’s frustrating, but understandable,” said Debenhams property director Phil Monaghan. “To a large extent, we’re in the hands of the developers.”
The delays are symptomatic of a wider trend in the market of developers shelving future schemes because of the growing woes in the construction industry and the scarcity of new finance.

“They’re trying to re-evaluate bits and pieces and make sure the financing is working,” said Monaghan. He said that the delays were “not causing the company any great concern”.

He added that Debenhams remains committed to the schemes and that it is not considering pulling out of any of them.