Debenham’s new flagship store in Watford is to close permanently, the company has confirmed.

The Observer understands employees at the intu Watford store were told via a conference call this morning the shop will not be reopening.

Debenhams says it has been unable to agree a new rent with its landlord, intu.

Debenhams only opened its store in Watford in September 2018 as part of the £180 million extension at intu Watford.

The store features the UK’s first redesigned beauty hall complete with a gin bar, with a focused personal shopping experience and was dubbed a new "flagship" store for Debenhams.

Watford Observer:

A Debenhams spokesperson has confirmed to the Observer the store at intu Watford will be permanently closing.

A spokesperson for Debenhams added: "Sadly we have been unable to agree terms with the landlord in Watford and as a result this store will not be re-opening in line with the rest of the chain next week.

"We greatly regret the effect on our colleagues, who have served our customers with commitment and dedication. Our customers in Watford can continue to shop with us online at or at other local stores from next week."

It’s being reported Debenhams in Milton Keynes and Gateshead – both in intu shopping centres – will not be reopening either.

Watford Observer:

The intu Watford extension

Debenhams is facing a financial crisis and is currently in administration.

The company announced its intentions to reopen 50 stores from June 15, but the list did not include Watford.

Debenhams plans to reopen another 70 stores, after going into lockdown with 142 stores open.

Some Debenhams stores have already closed, including in Borehamwood, because the company says it could “not agree new terms” with its landlord at Borehamwood Shopping Park.

Seven Debenhams closed on April 17, with the loss of 422 jobs.

Head office jobs have also been cut.

Debenhams’ landlords intu is facing its own financial woes.

It was reported earlier this month that intu, which owns 17 shopping centres in the UK, was putting administrators on standby.

Sky News has said intu is £4.3 billion in debt and needs time to repay back its debts.

intu has secured a debt waiver of until June 26 but says it expects to breach its debt commitments by this deadline amid falling rental payments and has asked for an 18-month standstill on debt repayment.

The retail landlord says the coronavirus crisis has heavily impacted its ability to secure rent payments, with some retailers choosing not to pay rents.

intu is expected to release its own statement regarding the Debenhams closures imminently.

More to follow.