Coventry’s business community has expressed disappointment as the city’s Debenhams store faces closure.

The chain collapsed this morning after the last remaining bidder withdrew – putting 12,000 employees at risk of losing their jobs and meaning 124 stores are expected to cease trading.

Debenhams had been in administration since April.

Trish Willetts, director of Coventry BID, described the news as an “utter blow” for the city.

She said her thoughts are with all those who face losing their jobs – but moved to offer some reassurance, describing Coventry’s historic characteristic of resilience, adding that she has faith that the city will recover economically from Covid-19.

Describing the staff of Debenhams Coventry, Trish said: “These are people we know personally as business friends, my heart goes out to them.

“To lose your job in a pandemic is bad enough, but it’s also right before Christmas. It’s a really awful moment for them.”

She pledged that there are brighter days around the corner for Coventry.

“[The news about] Tier 3 wasn’t a pleasant moment for us,” she said. “But the City of Culture status next year will mean we will recover much more quickly than other cities.

“We are a resilient city – let’s get through this and carry on driving the numbers down.”

On what could replace Debenhams in the large unit in West Orchards, Trish conceded that it might be difficult to find a single store which will want or need that much space.

She said: “It is a huge unit over several floors. In my opinion I can’t see one business going in there – but that means it is an opportunity to have many new businesses operating there.

“As the Coventry BID team we will do everything we can to support West Orchards in this. We are all in this together.”

She added: “Ultimately it is a tragic day for our friends at Debenhams, but as a city there are green shoots of hope and resilience.”





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