Debenhams loss 'leaves a big hole' in King's Lynn as future steps discussed
West Norfolk councillors have spoken about their disappointment following last week's announcement that Lynn's Debenhams store was closing down.
The impact on the town's High Street has also been highlighted at what is a challenging time for businesses across the country.
Graham Middleton, West Norfolk Council's cabinet member for business development, said discussions are taking place with the Vision King’s Lynn board and the King’s Lynn Business Improvement District (BID) to support recovery efforts for local businesses as lockdown eases.
On the loss of Debenhams, Mr Middleton said: "We were disappointed to hear that Debenhams have taken the decision not to reopen after lockdown.
"Debenhams is a flagship store at that end of the High Street and its closure is going to leave a big hole. There is much uncertainty about the future of high street retail coming out of this Covid-19 pandemic, not just in King’s Lynn, but across the country."
The council's leader Brian Long advised those who lost their jobs because of the closure to contact the local authority.
He said: "This is devastating news for the employees of Debenhams, many of whom have worked there for a long time. I would urge those who are now facing unemployment to get in touch to see how we can assist with council tax support or point them in the direction of other assistance.”
A former employee of Debenhams contacted the Lynn News claiming that there was no notice of the closure, and that furlough pay had stopped on the same day the store closed.
He suggested there could have been more transparency for staff.
Another employee of Debenhams said staff were informed through a conference call read out by script, and that the news was a particular blow for those who had been working there for more than 40 years.
She said staff were subsequently informed that a support pack would come in the post and they were encouraged to apply for redundancy pay from the government.
The High Street store had been closed for several weeks due to the pandemic before the announcement was confirmed last Friday.
A spokesperson for the company said: "This is in no way a reflection on the commitment and professionalism of our colleagues which has been exemplary, and we will work with them to support them through this process.”
He also said the store had to close after being unable to agree appropriate terms with the landlord of the building.