Debenhams closing down: Shoppers flock to remaining stores on last day as staff post emotional tributes

·3 min read
Debenhams administration (PA Wire)
Debenhams administration (PA Wire)

Shoppers have flocked to the last remaining Debenhams stores ahead of their closure on Saturday.

The last 28 stores will close for good today more than 240 years after the department store first began trading.

Customers got up early to visit the remaining outlets in order to pick up closing down sale bargains.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns were the final blow for the brand and in December its owners announced 12,000 job losses within the company.

After lockdown, 97 stores reopened to allow the last stock to be cleared but these have gradually been closed over the last two weeks.

Ahead of the department stores final closure a staff member tweeted: “Good morning folks.The day has finally arrived. My last shift at work, as the remaining 28 Debenhams stores close their doors for the last time.

“It's hard to believe that 5 years ago there was 165 stores! It's going to be a tough, strange, emotional day. I'll battle through.”

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A former worker for Debenhams tweeted: “Farewell Debenhams! You gave me my first ever Saturday job, at the grand old Broadmead palace of retail in Bristol. The toy department at Christmas certainly taught me a few things.”

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Others shared their favourite memories and experiences working at the store.

“Early Saturday morning. I’ve always loved it – market stalls, book shops, coffee shops – before the crowds,” one user wrote.

“As a kid, we’d drive to Swansea for 8:30, have breakfast in Debenhams, then split up, so Dad and I could look at the books in Smiths.”

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Another said: “Walked through @Debenhams on my way home today. One of my first jobs was here 30 years ago. It was quite sad to see. #endofanera what a massive empty space there will be in the centre.”

Debenhams’ history dates back to 1778, when William Clark opened a shop in London’s West End, selling fabrics, bonnets and parasols.

In the 1950s, it became one of the largest department store in the UK with 110 sites.

At its peak, there were more than 150 Debenhams stores across the UK.

The business began to decline amid the rise of online shopping and the chain went into administration in 2019.

It was put up for sale last year, and purchased by online retailer Boohoo for £55m.

In January, Boohoo said it will rebuild and relaunch the site, opening it to third party fashion brands as a “marketplace” for fashion, beauty, sport and homeware.

John Lyttle, Boohoo chief executive, said: “We have developed a successful multi-brand direct-to-consumer platform that continues to disrupt the markets that we operate in.

“The acquisition represents an exciting strategic opportunity to transform our target addressable market through the creation of an online marketplace that leverages Debenhams’ high brand awareness and traffic through the development of beauty and fashion partnerships connecting brands with consumers."

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