Customers queued to get into one of Nottingham’s biggest shops Debenhams at the weekend after it was announced the store will close.
Shoppers expressed their concerns on what would happen to “the iconic” building and how it could leave a dent in Nottingham’s shopping experience.
Others felt Debenhams had reached its sell-by date, with one shopper hoping the site will be used to house more of the city’s independent businesses.
Debenhams is to start a liquidation process after JD Sports confirmed it had pulled out of a possible rescue deal, putting 12,000 workers at risk.
The 242-year-old department store chain said its administrators have “regretfully” decided to start winding down operations while continuing to seek offers “for all or parts of the business.”
It is understood that the collapse of rescue talks was partly linked to the administration of Arcadia Group, 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, which include Topman, Topshop and Burtons.
Debenhams has been an integral part of the Old Market Square retail appeal since 1944.
But now, nearly 180 years of retail presence is under threat and a legion of Nottingham shoppers, as well as Debenhams employees, anxiously wait to hear what will happen.
A date has not yet been given when the store will close, but shoppers were queuing to get into the store on Saturday, December 5.
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Michelle Bramley, 44, from Clifton, said: “I think it is quite sad because we have lost the likes of BHS and this was the next best thing. I love Debenhams.
“It is not just one shop in there but several. It will be a hard place to fill and it makes you worry about what they will do with the building.
“They need to put something in there that is useful like a clothes store.”
Katie Gee, 27, also from Clifton, added: “I would like something in there that is a one-off for Nottingham that we have not already got.
“I have not been in Debenhams for years. The last time I went in there was to get my prom dress.
“But as long as I can remember it has always been there. It is a shame that it has been here for so long and you just expect it to be around forever.”
Daniel Byrne, 32, who is the marketing manager for independent Nottingham business Doughnotts, in King Street, said it was time for a change.
He said: “I am glad to see it go, to be honest. I think it is an eyesore. I think if you spilt the building up you could offer it to independent businesses.
“They could do here what they have done in Hockley.
“If we were offered a space in there we would consider it and I know lots of businesses that may have a business venue in town when there is a market or event on that would take up the space.
“I think lockdown has proved that independent businesses work to a different model.”
Linda Lees, 61, from Kimberley, said she was sad to see the shop go as it is a place she often visits to get her shopping.
She said: “It is sad. I used to do all my shopping in Debenhams and all my friends have said ‘what are you going to do now?’
“I think they should turn the building into flats for older people. We should bring older people back into the city.”
John Russell, 56, also from Kimberley, added: “I think it will be a bit of an eyesore if it is closed for some time, especially being in Old Market Square.
“It is hard to know how retail is going to go back to how it was before.”