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Debenhams has confirmed record annual losses and said it will close up to 50 under-performing stores. In the year to September it lost £491.5m, against profits of £59m the year before.

The troubled department store chain, which has 166 branches, had previously said it planned to close 10 stores. Boss Sergio Bucher said the company was “taking tough decisions” on stores where financial performance was likely to deteriorate over time.

Mr Bucher said the additional 40 stores earmarked for closure were “currently contributing positively” to the business, but added: “However, rolling forward current trends, we do not believe they will remain profitable in future years and therefore we intend to exit these stores over the next 3-5 years”.

Debenhams has been undergoing a revamp aimed at reviving its fortunes, redesigning stores and introducing new “experiences” including beauty treatments and Prosecco bars.

Mr Bucher said it had identified a “profitable core of up to 100 stores in flagship and vibrant markets” where it could see a positive return on future investment. These stores account for more than 80% of the chain’s profit.

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