Next has snapped up five stores across Hammerson’s estate that Debenhams is exiting for the launch of a new beauty store concept.

The fashion retailer has signed flexible leases the Hammerson to take over the sites from Debenhams.

The department store retailer agreed to exit its stores across Hammerson’s portfolio yesterday, as revealed by Retail Week. The move will see Debenhams exit five stores at Birmingham’s Bullring, Croydon’s Centrale, Silverburn in Glasgow, High Cross in Leicester and Reading’s Oracle at the cost of 1,400 jobs.

Next has said its “intends to hire experienced staff with proven premium beauty retail experience”, so it is “likely that many of the former Debenhams staff will secure a position with Next”.

The fashion retailer said it is also in discussions about a small number of other sites to roll out its new concept to and the new stores will complement its burgeoning online beauty business, which sells over 200 brands including Estée Lauder and Clinique.

Next said it is working with its retail teams to ensure that when its new store format is unveiled the proper social distancing measures can be maintained for shoppers and staff.

Chief executive Lord Wolfson said: “This is an exciting opportunity to work with existing and new beauty brand partners to create a new force in beauty retailing – bringing our online business to life through premium store environments in some of the UK’s most important retail locations.”