DEBENHAMS could be set to bring forward the closure of around 20 stores this year, it is being reported.

The BBC says the firm - which has a major base in Taunton - is exploring a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which would allow the company to renegotiate its rental rates with landlords as well as speeding up plans to shut shops.

The talks with banks to increase its borrowings come ahead of a quarterly rent payment, due on March 25, the BBC says, although Debenhams has declined to comment.

In October, Debenhams announced it was to close 50 stores after recording the biggest loss in its history, putting around 4,000 jobs at risk.

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And just last week, it was reported jobs in Taunton could be set to go as the firm looked to make cuts at support centres in London and the County Town.

Debenhams has 165 stores and employs around 25,000 people.