DEBENHAMS have lost their last remaining bidder to save them from administration – putting 12,000 jobs at risk.
High street rival JD Sports has pulled out of rescue talks with Debenhams who have been in administration since April.
The owner of the building housing Taunton’s Debenhams, has already developed ‘contingency plans’, should the North Street store close.
They are working with development firm Crossmark to draw up the contingency plans, which will potentially include apartments and commercial space on the ground floor.
The consultation opened to the public in September, but has now closed while a planning application is being prepared.
The 242-year-old department store chain said its administrators have “regretfully” decided to start its liquidation process, while continuing to seek offers.
Stephen Henagulph, chief executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said he was saddened and disappointed by the news.
“Debenhams is a huge part of the town’s retail economy and our thoughts are with the staff who are currently facing an uncertain future,” he said.
“These are undoubtedly extremely tough times for all those in retail as they juggle the impact of the pandemic combined with the threat posed by online shopping.
“We will continue to work closely with our Chamber members and Taunton Chamber of Commerce to support all the town’s traders in this difficult economic climate.”
Debenhams said it will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks.
In a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange, JD Sports said: “JD Sports Fashion, the leading retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands, confirms that discussions with the administrators of Debenhams regarding a potential acquisition of the UK business have now been terminated.”
Debenhams has already cut 6,500 jobs across its operation due to heavy cost-cutting after it entered administration for the second time in 12 months.
It is understood that the collapse of the deal is partly linked to the administration of Arcadia, which is the biggest operator of concessions in Debenhams stores.
Arcadia tumbled into insolvency on Monday evening, casting a shadow over its own 13,000 workers and 444 stores.