New hope for Debenhams' Bullring store with fresh talks launched

There are fresh hopes that the huge Debenhams department store in Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre could be saved from permanent closure.

Debenhams in the Birmingham bullring
Debenhams in the Birmingham bullring

It was announced earlier this month that the fourth biggest Debenhams in the country was not going to reopen.

It is one of five of its UK stores which would stay shut following the easing of lockdown.

The retailer said that despite “best efforts” it had been unable to agree terms with shopping centre owner Hammerson to reopen the branches, after falling into administration last month.

Bullring owners Hammerson are believed to have been in talks with Debenhams over its store

Now the stores giant has revealed that negotiations with the landlord have resumed and fresh efforts to reach an agreement are in process.

Debenhams would not comment on whether or not the store will reopen, but confirmed that staff who had been told they would lose their jobs have been put back on furlough.

One Express & Star reader from Willenhall contacted the newspaper to say that his daughter, who works at the store, had been originally told she had lost her job, but was telephoned first on Friday to say negotiations were back on and then again on Wednesday to say it was now going to be kept open.

Debenhams has agreed terms on the vast majority of its stores, which it plans to reopen when Government restrictions allow.

Last month Debenhams closed seven outlets, including Kidderminster, resulting in the loss of 422 jobs, though it said it had agreed terms with landlords to continue trading at 120 of its 142 UK stores.

Wolverhampton's Debenhams based in the Mander Centre closed in January.

The Bullring pictured earlier this year before the lockdown

The retailer entered administration on April 9, appointing FRP Advisory to oversee the process, casting a shadow over the future of its 22,000 staff.

At the time the majority of its employees in the UK were being paid under the Government’s furlough scheme.

Debenhams has been in the Bullring since the shopping centre opened after a major redevelopment in September 2003.

The 19,230 sq metres store opened in the three-storey mall 20 years after the company closed its original Birmingham city centre store due to declining trade.

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