Three months on - what is happening to Debenhams in Sheffield city centre?

It is three months since Debenhams in Sheffield city centre closed.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 2:09 pm

The darkened and dilapidated building on The Moor stands isolated amid new developments on all sides.

To the rear, Charter Square boasts a thriving new restaurant, The Furnace, as well as a brightly-lit entrance to The Light cinema, the giant HSBC office block and access to the Heart of the City developments off Cambridge Street.

Meanwhile, Sheffield’s shrinking retail sector is increasingly focused on The Moor - prompting growing questions about the future of the Debenhams building.

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Debenhams stands darkened amid new developments in Sheffield city centre.

The store, which closed on May 15, was among 118 shut down by administrators with the loss of 12,000 jobs. Online retailer Boohoo bought the brand for £55m.

A Land Registry search appears to show it changed hands on March 26 this year for £1.5m, and it was bought by Lewisham MHA 5, a subsidiary of property company MHA London.

A company called TAB London provided the mortgage. Both firms have been contacted for comment.

The Moor itself changed hands in February and now belongs to a company called New River. The firm has also been contacted for an up to date comment.

When it was open: Debenhams on The Moor in December. Picture: Chris Etchells

When it took over it suggested the building could be flattened and redeveloped.

Sheffield City Council, which was so involved in the John Lewis department store, is forwarding all Debenhams queries to New River.

Meanwhile, readers have plenty of suggestions for what to do with it.

Karl Austin, managing director of KDA Web Services, said: “I really would love to see Debenhams or John Lewis turned in to somewhere for independent small businesses to trade from, with appropriate rents, support and mentoring, independent food hall etc.

“Give Sheffield something different, we don't want copy to everywhere else, let's forge our own path.”

Cheryl Sanderson, of CTS Environmental Services, responded: “That would make me visit. I don't come into the city centre. I tend to visit independent shops and combine that with a visit to a cafe.”

Dale Benton, assistant manager, KPMG UK, said: “It is crying out to become a hub of independent small businesses - especially with the Heart of the City work happening just over the road.”

On Twitter, Mr Gee said: “Make it multi-use, residential, retail and leisure. It should be opened up into the Light cinema building. Link the two, always seemed odd that you couldn't access one from the other.”

Chris Corker said: “Demolition followed by conversion into green space.”

Cameron Ratcliffe had a similar idea: “Demolish it and create a large public space.”

New figures show the UK lost 83 per cent of its main department stores in the last five years - down from 467 to 79 today.

Internet shopping and the pandemic are seen as the main factors.

The data, compiled by property information firm CoStar Group, also reveals 237 have yet to be taken over by a new business.

CoStar tracked the UK's largest chains, from BHS and Beales to Debenhams and House of Fraser, from 2016 to the present day.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.