It’s not a shock to anyone, but Debenhams as a high street presence is to be no more. The stores are a familiar sight in the Westcountry, with both Exeter and Plymouth hosting large Debenhams locations.
Online fast fashion retailer BooHoo have bough the rights to the brand, but are not going to be taking over the high street locations. This leaves a big hole for retail location in both Exeter and Plymouth, and further afield, with hundreds in the westcountry set to lose their jobs.
The coronavirus pandemic has already pushed a number of familiar brands out of business, including Topshop, Peacocks, Dorothy Perkins, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Animal and Evans Shoes.
During the coronavirus pandemic, most of us have had no option but to do most of our retail shopping online. Even during the brief Christmas shopping season in 2020, which lasted for just the first half of December thanks to the second lockdown, people have preferred to buy their clothes and gadgets online.
By contrast, online brands such as Amazon and Asos have had some of their most profitable seasons ever.
But where does this leave those of us in Devon and Cornwall? With retail on it’s knees, tourism still looking to be hugely impacted, and local industries such as fishing affected by Brexit, what does the future look like for the westcountry?
The region is not short of entrepreneurs and boutique brands, such as Finisterre and Sesalt. However these smaller brands have also been affected by the pandemic, and definitely do not have the potential to hire the hundreds of people laid off by Debenhams or House of Fraser.
Time will tell how the local councils respond to this latest blow to local business and what will come to replace it’s place in the economy.