The Maltese franchise companies operating three of the UK’s leading high-street stores say that closures in Britain will not impact Malta.
The franchisees for Debenhams, Mothercare and Marks and Spencer’s said that business would continue operating normally and there were no intentions to shut Maltese stores despite closures of UK branches.
The three UK retailers have reported plans in recent months to close several of their stores to save the companies after going into administration or to restructure in response to falling profits.
Mothercare UK’s 79 stores closed their doors for the final time last week while Debenhams UK will close 22 of its branches by the end of January.
Mothercare had gone into administration last April while Debenhams UK had fallen into the same financial procedures in November.
Anthony Camilleri, CEO of Camilleri Group, which operates five stores under the Mothercare name, said that international business will continue unaffected.
“The Mothercare franchise in Malta will continue as usual and the international business will continue as usual. The only thing that will change is that stores have been closing down in the UK,” he said.
There is no intention to reduce the number of stores or people, he added.
Mothercare International currently operates 1,227 international franchises around the world, from China to Chile.
There is no intention to reduce the number of stores or people
Mr Camilleri said this was much stronger than the UK contingent and there was interest for further expansion.
“The international franchises have bought all of the stock from Mothercare UK and will continue to be sold under the international business,” he added.
Debenhams Malta’s franchise operator also said the closures in the UK would not impact Malta.
Simon Gatt Baldacchino, chief operations officer and director of the United Group Company said store closures had no bearing on Debenhams franchise business overseas.
“Debenhams UK is currently undergoing a restructuring process by rebalancing their current 180 stores. Debenhams has a very strong international franchise business and therefore this has no impact here,” he said.
Malta’s two Debenhams stores have been operating for almost a decade under United Department Stores Ltd, part of the United Group Company. The store at The Point Shopping Mall in Tigné, Sliema, opened in 2010 while the other at Main Street Shopping Complex, Paola, has been open since 2012.
These stores make up two of more than 50 international franchise stores currently operating in around 20 countries.
A representative from Retail International Group told Times of Malta that current restructuring plans for Marks and Spencer’s UK would not have an impact on international franchises because they were separate entities.
Malta hosted the first Marks and Spencer’s department store outside of the UK. The local operators now operate six clothing and Simply Food stores in Malta.