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Hopes fading of reprieve for Wolverhampton's Debenhams

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Business | Published:

Hopes of Debenhams' flagship Wolverhampton store being saved appear to be fading amid silence from the high street giant over its future.

Has the fate been sealed for Debenhams?

Talks have been ongoing over the summer to try to persuade the retailer to remain in the city, with the possibility of downsizing one option that has been explored.

But it is understood senior figures at Wolverhampton Council are in the dark about plans for the store, while the owners of the Mander Centre, Benson Elliot, have stayed quiet.

When approached by the Express & Star about the store's future, Debenhams simply said there was "no new news to report".

The retailer dropped a bombshell in April when it announced the Wolverhampton branch would be one of 22 to be axed, just 18 months after opening as the anchor store in the newly-refurbished Mander Centre.

The future remains uncertain over Debenhams in the Mander Centre

A glimmer of hope then emerged when it was revealed bosses at the department chain had shown willingness to enter discussions about the possibility of staying in the city.

While an agreement has not been ruled out, there has also been no positive noises over the summer from any of the parties involved.

And Councillor Wendy Thompson, the city's Conservative group leader, believes that could be an ominous sign.

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"I think so," she said. "I would be really sorry to see Debenhams go but people have got to use these stores.

"Debenhams nationally have got issues and that is out of our control. You go in there at lunch time and the office workers keep it buoyant but after that you may be the only person on the floor of the shop."

The proposed closure of the 22 stores has put more than 1,200 jobs at risk.

The loss of Debenhams would deal another blow to Wolverhampton city centre, which also looks set to lose Beatties in its current form.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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