Debenhams branch at Merry Hill Centre closes for good after 32 years of trading

The branch of Debenhams at the Merry Hill Centre shut its doors, along with hundreds of others around the UK, for the final time yesterday bringing more than 240 years of retail history to an end.

The department store chain, a staple of high streets since 1778, closed its remaining 28 stores for good on Saturday after the company collapsed amid the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. A further 21 sites had shut up shop for the final time on Thursday.

The retailer was already struggling before the coronavirus outbreak, as shoppers moved away from traditional department store models and moved online. But the final nail in the coffin was the enforced closure of sites during lockdown and the business quickly went into administration within weeks of the virus fully hitting the UK.

The company, which began life as a high end draper in London's West End, started its liquidation process at the start of this year after failing to secure a rescue sale. Debenhams first opened at Merry Hill in November 1989 and was one of the oldest tenants at the centre alongside Asda and Marks & Spencer. It also occupied the largest retail unit at 129,866 square feet. 

Nationally, the much-loved department store chain employed more than 20,000 people before the pandemic, and reopened sites from 12 April after the reopening of essential retail in order to clear stock across its stores.

Administrators sold the brand to online-only player Boohoo for £55m back in January but confirmed its bricks and mortar business would close for good.


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