Fringe Box



Guildford’s Debenhams Gets A Reprieve

Published on: 9 Jul, 2019
Updated on: 11 Jul, 2019

By Hugh Coakley

Debenhams’ Guildford store is to stay open until at least January 2021. The delay would be a year’s reprieve following the announcement only two months ago that the store would close after the Christmas period in January 2020.

Debenhams main entrance

The landmark Millbrook department store is to be one of 22 to close across the country leaving over 100 Debenhams branches to continue trading.

Following the announcement of closures, a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) had been approved by more than 90% of its creditors in May 2019 which would have seen even more of the Debenhams brand stores shutting their doors.

However, there is a legal challenge by Sports Direct, M&G Real Estate (who own the head lease on the Millbrook site) and others against the CVA which had been expected to have been heard in early July 2019. It is reported that M&G have withdrawn their challenge and Terry Duddy, the Debenhams CEO, has called on the others to follow suit.

The decision by M&G Real Estate could have had a bearing on discussions with the landlords which have led to the one-year extension on the Millbrook site.

Amanda Masters

Amanda Masters, general manager of Experience Guildford which promotes Guildford’s retail sector, said of the news: “If true, this is fantastic news for Guildford.”

Mark Ashman, Debenhams’ MD of stores, operations & food, said: “It’s good news that we can continue trading in Guildford.

“I am sorry that our colleagues have had to deal with the uncertainty while we were in discussions over the store’s future, but I have been very impressed with their continuing professionalism and commitment to our customers.”

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has contacted Guildford Borough Council for their reaction to the news of the Debenhams store remaining open for a further year.

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Council leader and lead councillor for sustainable transport, transformation and regeneration, economic development and governance, Cllr Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) said: “We welcome this news and support Debenhams staying open as long as possible – we are actively working with the freeholder to secure a future for this very important riverside site in Guildford.”

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