Sir Ian Cheshire – a former chairman of Debenhams – is quoted on the BBC website that Debenhams was “caught in a straitjacket” with too many High Street outlets on long leases.
It is worth pointing out that in 2005, Debenhams entered into a sale & leaseback transaction on 23 stores with British Land. They committed to lease terms of 30 and 35 years and with annual compound increases in the rent. Debenhams happily pocketed £495,000,000. (Source – Property Week)
I seem to recall that House of Fraser pulled a similar stunt. They befell a similar fate. These retailers have often been instrumental in their own downfall. It’s not the fault of property owners…although they often seem to be taking the hit through the inequitable CVA process.