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UK retailers mull fresh wave of store closures: paper

[LONDON] More than 20 UK retail chains instructed accountancy firm Deloitte LLP in the past two months to assess whether they are able to restructure their debt, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it got the information.

The accountancy firm is considering whether the chains - mostly fashion and homeware retailers - can use a so-called company voluntary arrangement to close stores. The process allows businesses to leave behind lease liabilities and keep operating, but puts a financial burden on landlords.

Restaurant chains Carluccio's, Byron Hamburgers, Prezzo and Jamie's Italian all used CVAs last year, according to the Sunday Times, which didn't identify the chains in discussions with Deloitte.

Competition for UK retailers has increased in the past year from online retailers while Brexit concerns have impacted results. Debenhams said Thursday it's in talks with lenders, with at least £300 million (S$521.7 million) of debt coming next year, while John Lewis has warned its full-year profit is expected to be substantially lower this year.

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