Staff at the Debenhams outlet in Liverpool ONE have been told the store will close its doors for the final time by mid-May with a stock clearance sale offering discounts of up to 70%. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool ONE’s Debenhams retail outlet will close in four weeks, its staff have been told.
Debenhams reopened this week after the easing of COVID restrictions. In January, online fashion retailer boohoo has acquired the brand in a £55m deal that did not included the bricks and mortar stores.
Now the Liverpool store is only staying open to sell its remaining stock and discounts of up to 70% on leading fashion brands have seen shoppers form long queues in the story this week. Staff have been told the outlet will be closed by mid-May and customers are being advised there will be no refunds or returns on goods.
When the £1bn Liverpool ONE complex opened in 2008, the 180,000 sq ft Debenhams store was joint flagship tenant, along with John Lewis. Both outlets are at either end of South John Street.
In an interview with LBN in February, Liverpool ONE’s new estate director, Iain Finlayson says he was confident that complex owner Grosvenor would ensure the space occupied by Debenhams would not stay empty for long.
“My heart really goes out to the workers at the Debenhams store… obviously it is a big space and if it does become vacant then there are probably only four or five retail names in the country who could fill that kind of space,” said Mr Finlayson.
“It could also be split up into two or three units. If necessary that is what the landlord (Grosvenor) may do. They are clear they are here for the long term and are always willing to invest in the estate.”
Mr Finlayson also said that retailers are queuing up to move in to the Liverpool city centre retail unit currently occupied by the Topshop and Topman brands of the collapsed Arcadia Group.
Online retailer Asos agreed a deal to acquire the brands and stock of Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge in a £330m deal. However, similar to the Debenhams sale, the deal does not include the bricks and mortar stores. Those outlets include the 68,000 sq ft unit in Liverpool city centre which is now almost certain to close.
Liverpool’s Topshop fronts onto Church Street, Liverpool’s main retail thoroughfare, but the unit is actually part of the Liverpool ONE retail and leisure complex. Mr Finlayson added: “It is a shame both Topshop and Debenhams are likely to close as they both traded very well here in Liverpool. It was trading elsewhere that was behind their demise.
“Both brands have had well publicised problems for some time there is a long back story for both. Topshop’s likely closure was possibly more of a surprise. I think there was more hope those stores could be saved. So there is a bit more work to do with that. But we have already had at least two enquiries from potential occupiers for the site.”