Posted: Wed 27th Jan 2021

Welsh Government say they will ‘work closely’ with Wrexham Council to assist affected Debenhams staff for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

Wales’ finance minister had said that the Welsh Government would “work with local authorities” and has reiterated support on offer to those who want to retrain or to find a new job or to undertake self-employment.

On Monday it was announced that the high street retailer, which had a flagship store on Eagles Meadow, had been taken over by online, fast fashion brand Boohoo.

Debenhams had been struggling for several years and last April announced that it would be entering administration.

Talks for a rescue deal had been taking place with sports retailer JD, however these fell through at the start of December after the company pulled out of talks.

In a trading update Boohoo said it had “acquired all of the intellectual property assets (including customer data and related business information and selected contracts) of Debenhams Retail Limited” from its joint administrators, for £55 million.

The Debenhams stores were not included as part of the deal. It is expected they will reopen when the lockdown measures end to clear stock, before closing for good.

Around 12,000 jobs across the UK are thought be affected by this week’s sale.

The loss of such a big company has raised concerns about the future of the high street and the impact the closure of Debenhams will have on towns and cities.

Speaking at a Plenary session yesterday afternoon Conservative MS for South East Wales, Laura Anne Jones, called for support local communities and workers affected by this week’s news.

Rebecca Evans, minister for finance and Trefnydd, said that the loss of “so many jobs and landmark stores in some of our communities” was a “real concern” to the Welsh Government.

She added: “The Welsh Government will work very closely with all of the local authorities affected. We’ll also ensure that our support schemes such as ReAct and so on, are in place for the affected workers.

“And, of course, we made this pledge to people, through the coronavirus, that we will seek to ensure that everybody has the support that they need to either retrain or to find a new job or to undertake self-employment, if that’s something that they would wish to do, so we need to ensure that those support packages are there for individuals, but also that our high streets, nonetheless, do have a healthy and vibrant future as we come out of the pandemic.

“The work we’re doing through our town centre loan schemes, for example, will be really important in that, and some of the allocations specifically in the budget for next year speak very much to ensuring that we have healthy high streets in the future.

“I think that there is a positive future for our high streets, but it certainly will require a great deal of work, both with Welsh Government but also with the partners who Laura Anne Jones has described.”

Debenhams is the latest store to announce its closure on Eagles Meadow throughout the course of the pandemic. Frankie & Benny’s, Pizza Express, Burger King and H&M have all left the shopping centre in recent months.

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