UK department store chain Debenhams has axed 2,500 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic piles further pressure onto the long-suffering group.

"Such difficult decisions are being taken by many retailers right now, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to give Debenhams every chance of a viable future," the company said in a statement. 

"At the same time, the trading environment is clearly a long way from returning to normal and we have to ensure our store costs are aligned with realistic expectations," it added, with a spokesman confirming there had been "2,500 jobs cut".

Debenhams was saved from collapse in April after securing a deal with creditors but it had been struggling to survive long before the virus pandemic owing to a surge in online shopping.

"We have successfully reopened 124 stores, post-lockdown, and these are currently trading ahead of management expectations," the spokesman added.

Debenhams Ireland, which operated 11 stores here, was placed into liquidation in April.

The Irish store closures came after the UK parent company ended its financial support of the Irish business.

Over 1,000 workers lost jobs across the country as a result of the closure.

Former workers have been protesting against what they say was an unfair redundancy settlement from their former employer.

Jobs data

The jobs announcement came after official data showed that the number of workers on UK company payrolls slumped by a further 114,000 in July from June.

A total 730,000 positions have been shed since March, when Britain went into lockdown over COVID-19, the Office for National Statistics revealed.

UK companies - from major retailers to airlines - are axing thousands of jobs despite government efforts to safeguard employment during the pandemic by subsidising wages.