Sadness in Chesterfield over closure of Debenhams store

A Chesterfield council chief has expressed solidarity with staff at Debenhams – as the 242-year-old company’s stores face closure.

Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 4:48 pm

On Monday, fashion retailer Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand and website from administrators for £55million.

However, Boohoo will not take on any of the firm’s remaining shops or its workforce – meaning up to 12,000 jobs at the department store chain are expected to go.

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Debenhams in Chesterfield when the area was in Tier 3 at the end of 2020.

Debenhams opened its Chesterfield store at Ravenside Retail Park to much fanfare in 2012.

Councillor Dean Collins, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “It is always sad to see businesses close and people lose their jobs but it must be especially difficult for anyone in that situation at this time.

“We work closely with our partners in the employer partnership team at Jobcentre Plus to ensure that people in Chesterfield receive the support they need if affected by redundancy.

“This support can take several different forms and is dependent on an individual’s needs but can include career guidance, employability skills support, help with job search and advice on upskilling or reskilling.”

Coun Collins added: “The last year has been an incredibly challenging one for retail.

“With the need to adapt to an ever-changing situation and the unforeseen closures due to lockdowns, many retailers are struggling.

“We are working with our partners, Destination Chesterfield, on a campaign called Supporting Our High Streets which aims to encourage people to shop locally online but also provides businesses with a range of training and support options.

“We are also developing plans to make our town centre more attractive for visitors and shoppers.”

Dom Stevens, Destination Chesterfield manager, said: “It’s tremendously sad news about the closure of Debenhams.

“It was a hugely popular store in Chesterfield, proving that the high street and the many shops and stores on it continue to have an important place in our town.

“In these challenging times and beyond we must all continue to support local businesses.”

A Jobcentre Plus spokesperson said they were ‘still waiting for confirmation of the numbers following the Boohoo announcement this week’.

They added: “We know this will be a worrying time for those employees and we stand ready to support anyone impacted by job loss.”

Commenting on our Facebook page, Lina Boden said she was ‘so sad’ to learn Debenhams stores would be shutting.

“It was such a lovely shopping experience,” she added.

Adele Burton said she ‘loved’ the Chesterfield shop and described the staff there as ‘lovely’.

Hazel Kennedy added: “What a shame.

“It was lovely to at last have a quality department store in Chesterfield.

“I’m so sad for all the workers.”

Debenhams entered administration for the second time in April last year.

It had struggled for years as a result of rising debts and falling profits as more shopping moved online.

Boohoo said Debenhams was expected to relaunch on Boohoo’s web platform later this year.

Mahmud Kamani, executive chairman of Boohoo, said: “This is a transformational deal for the group, which allows us to capture the fantastic opportunity as ecommerce continues to grow.

“Our ambition is to create the UK’s largest marketplace.”

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