PRESS RELEASE: Debenhams collapse is a blow nationally and also for Guildford

December 4, 2020 9:00 AM

Responding to the news earlier this week that Debenhams stores are set to close affecting up to 12,000 jobs, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

"The news that Debenhams will be closing its stores is yet another blow to the UK economy. With the Arcadia Group entering administration last night, thousands more jobs have been potentially wiped away on Rishi Sunak's watch.

"During the pandemic when so many are already struggling to get by, unemployment will have a devastating impact. This Government's failure to get a grip on the virus has seen tens of thousands of livelihoods lost, and these extra job losses mean thousands more families across the UK wondering how they're going to get by.

"Our high streets now need urgent government action to safeguard their future. A first step must be for Ministers to overhaul the business rates system, otherwise we will see yet more livelihoods lost in our retail sector."

Debenhams Guildford

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Guildford and Cranleigh Zöe Franklin added:

"The loss of Debenhams comes as a blow to Guildford as a town in terms of its retail draw. I remember visiting the store regularly throughout my childhood growing up in Farnham, and I'm sure many local people then and now have done the same, so its loss will almost certainly cause a dent in retail visits to the town.

"There is also the issue of what to do once Debenhams' important riverside location becomes vacant. With demand for retail space decreasing it is my hope that the building will be able to be rejuvenated in a fresh way. My personal view is that it would be an excellent site for a mixed-use arts, community and residential space. I know that Guildford Borough Council's Lib Dem/R4GV leadership team will be working behind the scenes to make the most of the site.

"Finally, and most importantly, I know that this news will be a disappointment to the staff of Guildford's Debenhams, if they were hoping a last-minute rescue could have kept the store open beyond its previously announced closure date of January (2021), so my thoughts are with these staff and their families at this challenging time."