Blackpool Council in talks with retailer to take over Debenhams store in Houndshill Centre

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A new retailer is in talks with Blackpool Council about taking over the Debenhams department store at the Houndshill Centre, which closes its doors for the final time today.

The Debenhams store will close in Blackpool today
The Debenhams store will close in Blackpool today

Council bosses said negotiations are ongoing with a retailer but they are remaining tight-lipped on what firm it maybe, but one council source said it’s a ‘big name’.

Town hall officials said they are hoping to reveal the outcome of the talks to residents ‘very soon’ and what the future holds for the resort’s biggest shop.

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “We have obviously been aware of the impending closure of the Debenhams store within the Houndshill for some time.

“During that period, we have been working closely with our agents to identify suitable alternative anchor tenants for the unit.

“We are currently in negotiations with a retailer to take the whole unit and we hope to be able to make an announcement in the near future.”

It’s unknown if the firm already has a presence in Blackpool or if it will be a new name in the resort.

The negotiations come as Debenhams shuts its doors for the last time today following closing down sales over the last month.

Blackpool Council said it is in talks with a retailer to takeover the unit
Blackpool Council said it is in talks with a retailer to takeover the unit

The department store opened up in 2008 and was the flagship store for the Houndshill.

Coun Maxine Callow, who was Blackpool Council’s cabinet member of regeneration and tourism when the store opened, said Debenhams brought shopping back to Blackpool.

She said: “It was a great anchor for the Houndshill, and in fact quite a few of my friends stopped shopping in Preston because they could do it in s Blackpool instead, and it was absolutely wonderful useful for Blackpool.

“The fact that Debenhams stores throughout the country are all closing is absolutely devastating news and to have something that size empty in town is not good for business.”

The store is almost empty of stock
The store is almost empty of stock

Maxine welcomed the news that negotiations are happening to decide a future for the store.

She said: “If we have got somebody interested in it, well I think that’s absolutely great news and let’s hope that it comes to fruition.

“When Debenhams did open we were all very excited and delighted because it had got something to offer for everybody.

“Household goods to small furniture, cafes, ladieswear, gentswear, makeup,, everything that anybody needed and it was an absolute delight to go there and do some shopping.

It is the final day today
It is the final day today

“The fact that we’ve lost it is very upsetting so I just hope that whoever’s interested can can crack on and get something up and running there.

“It’s a big ask because it’s such a huge building but if somebody has got the courage to do that then I think it’s wonderful.”

The departments store called in the administrators and started to close down stores across the UK in April last year, a month into the Covid-19 lockdown.

Retailer JD Sports was understood to be in pole position to buy the beleaguered retailer but in December, the sportswear firm pulled out due its parent company, Arcadia, going into administration.

Online clothing giant Boohoo then acquired Debenhams and its associated brands for £55 million but agreed to only buy its website. This means 12,000 jobs will be lost nationally as bricks and mortar Debenhams stores are shutting for good.

While the Blackpool branch has closed, nearby stores in Preston and Blackburn will remain open until Wednesday.

The store opened in 2008
The store opened in 2008

A spokesman for Debenhams said: “Over the next week, Debenhams will close its doors on the high street for the final time in its 242 year history.

“Our sincere thanks go out to all of our colleagues and customers who have joined us on this journey.

“We hope to see you all one last time in stores before we say a final goodbye to the UK high street.”