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Major blow to Winchester High Street as Debenhams set to close

The iconic chain of department stores, Debenhams, “regretfully” entered the liquidation process after JD Sports pulled out of last ditch rescue talks to purchase the retailer on 1st December.

The retailer, which is currently one of the biggest stores in Winchester, has been in administration since April this year.

The company released a statement saying: “On conclusion of this process, if no alternative offers have been received, the UK operations will close.”

It is now believed that the company, which is 242 years old, will close all stores and permanently cease trading early next year, with 12,000 workers set to lose their jobs.

The retailer is set to follow a trend of businesses vacating Winchester high street in recent times, with coffee giant Starbucks closing their store in March.

On 2nd December, the Debenhams website crashed as it was overwhelmed by an influx of shoppers looking to find a bargain online.

A clearance sale was announced at 7am, but by midday the website could not handle the volume of traffic, with customers greeted by a message stating “we’re sorry – our site’s not available right now”.

Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, the joint administrator to Debenhams and partner at FRP, said: “The decision to move forward with a closure programme has been carefully assessed and, while we remain hopeful that alternative proposals for the business may yet be received, we deeply regret that circumstances force us to commence this course of action.”

For the time being, the store which has been a staple to the Winchester shopping scene for many years, will continue to trade, as will the 123 other Debenhams stores.

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