Meadowhall gives update on future of Debenhams unit ahead of closure
Meadowhall says a number of operators have already expressed an interest in taking over the huge Debenhams unit.
The department store is set to close for good by May 15, following a big sale to clear the stock and raise as much money as possible for creditors.
Meadowhall’s centre director Darren Pearce revealed that while a new occupier, or occupiers, had yet to be chosen, there has been a lot of interest and a new store could open there as early as this summer.
He said: “I’ve been at Meadowhall for 27 years and we’ve seen lots of brands come and go during that time. Debenhams is a very high profile brand, which has been much loved, so it will be sad to see it leave the centre.
"But things do of course move on and we’ve had interest in that unit already from quite a few different operators.”
Mr Pearce said ‘every single permutation’ is being considered, from a single operator taking over the whole unit to splitting the floors into separate shops or even turning into a mall housing numerous smaller shops.
He added that he was ‘hedging more towards’ the first option, involving a single operator taking over the whole premises, which means whoever takes over could be in by Christmas.
If the unit does have to be split up that would involve more work, meaning that the stores replacing Debenhams would be unlikely to open before Christmas.
Mr Pearce said that since non-essential stores reopened on April 12, the vast majority of shoppers had observed the rules in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which include a one-way system and the requirement for face coverings.
"Compliance has been really high, with the percentage of people following the rules in the high 90s.
"We have layers and layers of communication reminding people of the measures in place, from our website and social media to signs in the car park when you arrive, advice upon entry and signs around the centre, where there are also regular announcements.
"We do have elements of non-compliance, as is the case everywhere, but we endeavour to work with environmental health and police to make sure we’re as compliant as we can possibly be and do everything in our power to remind people of the rules.”