Another Hit for Northern Ireland’s High Streets

Another Hit for Northern Ireland’s High Streets

News that Debenhams is to start a liquidation process after JD Sports confirmed it had pulled out of a possible rescue deal, putting hundreds of jobs in Northern Ireland at risk is another body blow to the Northern Ireland high street.

Commenting on the closure of Debenhams stores and the loss of its workforce following the sale of the brand and website, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said “Just as you think things can’t any worse for our high streets, we then have confirmation that four out their five stores in Northern Ireland are to close and majority of their staff are to lose their jobs following the Boohoo deal”

“Thankfully the Foyleside store has been bought by Frasers, but the closure of the four stores will be a hammer blow to our already struggling high streets. We are also concerned that if the ASOS talks to buy Topshop, Topman, etc to buy the brand and not the stores are successful then sadly we will see further store closures and job losse.

High Street Task Force Urgently Needed

“The Executive needs to immediately establish the High Streets Taskforce to get down to work, producing a big bold radical new plan for our post-pandemic high streets and town centres. While not a silver bullet for all the problems facing our high streets, it would be a step in the right direction in a co-ordinated approach towards recovery and reconstruction.”

The 242-year-old department store chain said its administrators have “regretfully” decided to start winding down operations while continuing to seek offers “for all or parts of the business”.

It is understood that the collapse of rescue talks were partly linked to the administration of Arcadia Group, which is the biggest operator of concessions in Debenhams stores.

JD Sports had been the last remaining bidder for Debenhams, which has been in administration since April.

Constant closures on the high street – especially anchor stores like Debenhams – has a knock on impact on other independent retailer and local traders.