Debenhams' surplus doubles to £159.4m despite record losses

Debenhams has reported a pension scheme surplus of £159.4m as of 1 September 2018, despite posting record annual losses for the year.

The retail giant’s surplus almost doubled over the past 12 months, after showing an £80.9m excess on 2 September 2017, due to a growth in asset values and a reduction in liabilities, it said.

Despite this, the department store posted a loss of £491.5m over the year and announced today that it would be closing 50 of its 166 branches, after previously saying that it planned to close 10, putting 4,000 jobs at risk.

The group runs two schemes, the Debenhams Retirement Scheme (DRS) and the Debenhams Executive Pension Plan (DEPP), both of which were closed for future service accrual from 31 October 2006.

An actuarial valuation of the scheme taken on 31 March 2017 revealed that the DRS scheme was in deficit on a technical provisions basis, though it did not reveal the size of the deficit.

In light of this, Debenhams said that a recovery plan was agreed, and that the group would contribute £5m per annum into the scheme from September 2017 to 31 March 2022.

The new agreement is almost half of an agreement made in 2015, in which the retail firm agreed to contribute £9.5m per annum up until 31 March 2022.

In April, the group posted a pensions surplus of £91.5m on an IAS accounting basis.

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