COMMENT: Worthing Debenhams closure would be huge blow to town

WH 060115 Montague Street shoppers. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150601-154201001
WH 060115 Montague Street shoppers. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150601-154201001

News that Debenhams is the latest big-name retailer to announce branch closures is, sadly, a sign of the times.

BHS, Toys R Us, Maplin and Poundworld are just some of the closure casualties, victims of online shopping and a shift in consumer culture which has seen countless coffee shops springing up.

And in Worthing, departures have also included Mothercare and Next, the nearest branches of the latter now at out-of-town locations in Shoreham and Rustington.

Let us be clear. We sincerely hope Debenhams in Worthing will stay.

Read more: Future of Worthing Debenhams uncertain as retail giant announces store closures

Staff will be facing uncertain times, wondering if - despite all their hard work and dedication – it will be enough to avoid becoming one of the 50 stories earmarked for closure.

So it is vital that Debenhams publishes its precise plans as soon as possible, so staff and their customers know what is happening – especially with Christmas fast approaching.

If shoppers value the store, they should continue to show support to the brand, so the powers that be are sent a strong message that the town – and surrounding areas – still value it.

There will always be speculation about what could happen, should the worst happen. The Debenhams store is a prominent one – and as town centre manager Sharon Clarke has confirmed, one of the town’s biggest.

It is imperative that such a large retail unit remains occupied, and we hope the Worthing store is not one of those earmarked for closure. Debenhams is a great high-street name with a long history. To lose it from our high street would be a huge blow to the town and the hard-working staff.