Wigan dealt hammer blow as Debenhams set to close within days

Debenhams in The Grand Arcade Wigan will shut on Saturday, May 8, the retailer confirmed today (April 27)

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 2:57 pm
Exterior of Debenhams store, Grand Arcade, Wigan
Exterior of Debenhams store, Grand Arcade, Wigan

Wigan’s biggest department store is set to close within days, dealing another hammer blow to the town’s retail scene.

Debenhams in The Grand Arcade Wigan will shut on Saturday, May 8, the retailer has confirmed.

The department store chain said it will be one of 25 stores in England and Wales to close on that date, in a move which has been described as “very sad”.

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John Sanson, centre manager at the Grand Arcade

It is not known how many jobs will be lost.

Debenhams’ remaining 45 stores are expected to close on or before May 15.

The retailer is in the middle of a closing down sale after no rescue deal for the struggling business was secured last year.

Grand Arcade centre manager John Sanson spoke of his sadness at the news.

Retro 1980s - Wigan's stores begin their Boxing Day sales at Debenhams and Marks and Spencer Standishgate

He said: “The Debenhams has been in the town for a number of years including 14 since we opened.

“I feel for the staff, some of whom have worked for 30 years, not just at the Grand Arcade but in Standishgate.

“There are retail changes currently and agents are looking at different uses for businesses, but this is a national issue and not a Wigan or Grand Arcade one.

“I hope all the staff gain re-employment and I wish them the best of luck for the future.”

Becca Heron, director of economy and skills at the council said the authority was “extremely disappointed” to lose the retailer.

She said: “Even before the pandemic, high streets across the country began to see significant changes.

“Wigan is no different and though we’re extremely disappointed to lose this major retailer, we remain committed to enhancing and diversifying the town centre offer in order to provide alternative reasons for people to visit.

“Covid-19 has accelerated this need and we will continue to look at ways we can use space differently.

“This commitment is demonstrated through the future ambitions for The Galleries and also through the former Marks and Spencer unit in the Grand Arcade, which is now being utilised for inspiring and exciting cultural activity.

“We recognise that this is an uncertain time for many of our business owners and their employees but we will continue to offer support, including providing advice and guidance to those who have unfortunately lost their jobs as a result of closure. ”

Debenhams has dominated Wigan’s skylines for decades and it used to occupy the biggest frontage on Standishgate, now where Wilko stands.

But when Wigan Council unveiled plans for The Grand Arcade in the early 2000s, Debenhams stepped forward as the anchor tenant for the complex.

It occupied the biggest footprint of any other business in the town centre, dominating the mall itself, and shoppers using the Grand Arcade car park have to pass through the premises in order to get through to the other shops.

The retail chain has been struggling for some time, with some analysts criticising it for not moving quickly enough with the times, especially in relation to its product offer and online sales.

It is believed that the Wigan store had remained profitable. Indeed, more than one business expert has suggested that there was still a decent retail model within the Debenhams empire, including the Wigan store, if only it could be separated from failing parts.

The Grand Arcade outlet had already been spared from several previous purges of the Debenhams estate. But now the burning question following the departure of many other notable tenants including M&S, BHS and Topman is what can be done with this vast two-storey outlet.

In a statement, Debenhams confirmed the closing date of the stores, including Wigan.

A spokesman added: “Shoppers will find unmissable discounts, including up to 80 per cent off fashion and home and at least 50 per cent off everything across the store, including beauty and fragrance. These discounts will come into effect from April 28 as we clear the last remaining stock.

“Our stock is flying off the shelves and it’s no surprise with such great bargains available. Time is running out for shoppers to take advantage of the incredible discounts being offered at these 25 stores.”

Debenhams stores closing on May 8


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