Within hours of the announcement that Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia chain had entered administration, the news came on Tuesday that the store that was once the backbone of many British high streets – Debenhams – was going to go the same way.
If no buyers are found, a total of 25,000 UK jobs will disappear.
Debenhams has operated a total 124 shops nationwide, but like the Arcadia chain, led by Topshop and Topman, failed to keep up with the new reality of on-line shopping favoured by younger buyers.
Unlike Arcadia, Debenhams is a well-established company, founded in 1778, at the time when the American colonies had just gained Independence from Britain. The retailer had already cut 6,500 outlets and closed several stores earlier this year.
It would be a mistake to blame the coronavirus crisis for the stores’ closures, but the virus has hastened their end. The cost will be high, not just in terms of lost jobs, but in the impact on town centres across Britain, many of which seem destined to become unneeded, unloved, useless and desperately empty.
RELATED CONTENT: The BBC has produced a number of short videos depicting the impact of the wider coronavirus crisis in Britain. One we particularly recommend is: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-55133081
FILE PHOTO: Reuters