Debenhams will close Metrocentre site after failing to agree on new rent

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One of the largest stores in the Gateshead Metrocentre is to close after Debenhams cannot agree to rent with the intu owners.Debenhams plans to reopen most of its stores next week, but more than 100 workers at the Metrocentre site were told on Tuesday that the store would not reopen. The Watford and Milton Keynes stores will also close.

The chain is currently under administration as it fights against the problems of the coronavirus epidemic as well as long-standing problems in the retail sector.

The company previously announced that its South Shields store, along with 16 others in the UK, would not reopen.

It is understood that the Debenhams store in Eldon Square in Newcastle should reopen. The chain also has locations in the northeast in Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

A Debenhams spokesperson said, “Unfortunately, we have not been able to agree with the owner on the terms and therefore this store will not reopen according to the rest of the chain next week.

“We deeply regret the effect on our colleagues, who have served our customers with commitment and dedication.”

Debenhams announced last week that it would reopen 50 of its stores in England on June 15 as restrictions on coronaviruses are relaxed – but the Metrocentre store was missing from the list.

The company said the remaining stores would reopen later in the week, but warned that it would only reopen 120 stores after a series of closings, after closing the foreclosure with 142 stores.

Staff who heard the news on a Tuesday morning conference call went to social media to express their sadness and wish their colleagues good luck.

One of them said, “I have spent four fabulous years working there! My heart goes out to all members of my working family! Massive party in order when it’s all over? I love you all! ”

Another former staff member added, “To all the staff at the Debenhams Metrocentre … good luck.”

And another said, “For nearly seven years that I have worked at Debenhams MetroCentre, I can honestly say that I could not have chosen a better group of people to work with. I will miss you more than you think. Thank you all for the laughs that it was truly one of the best jobs I have ever had. ”

Debenhams was the main tenant of the Metrocentre’s Red Mall when this part of the mall was redeveloped in 2004. It is one of the largest stores in the center.

The closure comes at a time when problems are enormous for Intu, the owner of the Metrocentre, which also operates Eldon Square in Newcastle and a dozen other shopping centers across the country.

Intu was already grappling with huge debts and problems in the retail sector before the coronavirus crisis, but since then the amount of rent it has collected has plummeted, with most stores having to close.

Reports over the weekend suggest that Intu has approached the directors and may consider taking over the administration if discussions on debt restructuring fail. The company made no comments.

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