Debenhams closure would be a huge dent to Worthing economy

Potentially really bad news for Worthing last week, with the news Debenhams was planning to shut up to 50 stores after profits plummeted in the last year.

As yet, the locations of the closures haven’t been named, but having lost BHS and Woolworths in recent memory, losing Debenhams is something Worthing town centre could really do without.

Debenhams in South Street, Worthing SUS-181025-112443001

Debenhams in South Street, Worthing SUS-181025-112443001

For all their detractors, Worthing does miss both BHS and Woollies.

In fact, at the time of the Woolworths’ collapse, there was a rescue plan for the retailer which would have seen the profitable stores survive under a new company structure.

I’m told that both Montague Street and Broadwater were on the list of stores that made money, but one of the biggest factors the group fell down on was that they did not own their freeholds.

Could that could be a big factor with Worthing’s Debenhams? Does the company own the freehold? I know it was previously Hubbards but when they took it over did they buy or rent?

Ian Hart

Ian Hart

|Also in the news - a Worthing mother has described relying on foodbanks while waiting for her first Universal Credit payment as ‘traumatic’; a resident has revealed Brooklands Park golf course was a council ‘priority’ to be reopened just six months ago; and a consultation period on the merger between Chichester College Group and Worthing College has launched|

It is a relatively busy shop, which I’m sure taking high street rent out of the equation might work in its favour, but on the flip side 50 stores is a lot. Ultimately, it would be a huge dent in the local economy if it were to shut, and a huge blow for the hard-working staff, too.

But what if the worst-case scenario happened and it were to close? Retail-wise, only Primark springs to mind as a company large enough to move into a store that big, and please not a 99p superstore!

If we do end up with one of the biggest shops empty, might it be time for the council to have a drastic rethink?

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