HEREFORD'S Debenhams appears to have escaped a swathes of closures of the chain's stores.

It is not on a list of 22 out of 166 branches to shut that was issued today.

But further closures will be confirmed in due course, with the final number depending on future trading performance.

The move has put 1,200 jobs at risk across the company.

The group has announced a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which will see the affected shops continue trading until early 2020.

Meanwhile, rent reductions will be sought on many of the remaining branches.

The Hereford Debenhams opened in the Old Market shopping development in 2014.

Terry Duddy, executive chairman of Debenhams, said: "The issues facing the UK high street are very well known.

"Debenhams has a clear strategy and a bright future, but in order for the business to prosper, we need to restructure the group's store portfolio and its balance sheet, which are not appropriate for today's much-changed retail environment.

"Our priority is to save as many stores and as many jobs as we can, while making the business fit for the future."

The retailer announced that it would pursue a restructuring last year, but the path for the process has now been cleared after control of the company was passed to its lenders.

Debenhams went into a pre-pack administration earlier this month, wiping out the stakes of all shareholders including Sports Direct's Mike Ashley.

Creditors including landlords will have the opportunity to vote on the CVA in a process overseen by advisers at KPMG.

Jim Tucker, a senior restructuring partner at KPMG, said: "Today's announcement marks the next phase of Debenhams' financial and operational restructuring strategy, following the comprehensive funding package announced at the end of March.

"If approved, and with the support of lenders and landlords, the CVAs will allow the business the flexibility to implement its turnaround strategy with a store estate that reflects the current UK retail environment."

Debenhams also released a financial update for the 26 weeks to March 2, showing that sales at its UK stores declined by 7.4 per cent during the period due to weaker footfall.

Underlying earnings declined by 36.6 per cent to £65.9 million.

The stores expected to close in 2020 are:

Altrincham Ashford Birmingham Fort Canterbury Chatham Eastbourne Folkestone Great Yarmouth Guildford Kirkcaldy Orpington Slough Southport Southsea Staines Stockton Walton Wandsworth Welwyn Garden City Wimbledon Witney Wolverhampton