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'We are finding different ways to attract people' - masterplan vow after Great Yarmouth Debenhams closure announced

PUBLISHED: 16:35 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 01 May 2019

Debenhams at Market Gates in Great Yarmouth will close next year. Picture: Archant

Debenhams at Market Gates in Great Yarmouth will close next year. Picture: Archant

Archant

The closure of a town's branch of Debenhams has been described as a blow but part of the changing trend in town centres.

Leader of the Conservative group in Great Yarmouth, Graham Plant. Pic: Neil PerryLeader of the Conservative group in Great Yarmouth, Graham Plant. Pic: Neil Perry

On Friday, April 26, the department store giants announced the closure of 22 shops across the UK including the one in Great Yarmouth as part of a major restructuring process which will take place next year.

Leader of the Conservative group in Great Yarmouth, Graham Plant, said: “It is disappointing but it has been on the cards for a while.

“With the Town Centre Masterplan we are changing what is on offer.

“We are finding different ways to attract people to the town.”

Town centre manager Jonathan Newman.  Picture: Nick ButcherTown centre manager Jonathan Newman. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Town Centre Master Plan is a vision outlined by Great Yarmouth Borough Council in 2018 and includes a number of projects, including improvements to the market place and the transformation of the Conge.

Mr Plant confirmed the council was working with Market Gates to ensure Debenhams would be replaced in the shopping centre.

Shoppers in the town have expressed their disappointment at the closure, with Ron and Tracey Cox describing the news as a big shame.

Mr Cox said: “It will be a big loss for the town because it sells quality clothing.

“We shopped there quite a bit so it is disappointing.”

Stores in Norwich and King's Lynn are to remain open but others around the country including in Canterbury, Guildford, Wolverhampton and Kirkcaldy will also close with up to 1,200 jobs lost nationwide.

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A spokesman for owners of Market Gates, Ellandi, said it had been anticipating the closure of the store for some time and had been working on alternative plans.

Town centre manager for Great Yarmouth Jonathan Newman, said he was disappointed by the news.

“The recent struggle of Debenhams with falling sales and record losses has been widely covered in the national news and whilst it seemed inevitable that this would result in store closures it is obviously disappointing to learn that Great Yarmouth is one of the locations earmarked for closure next year,” he said.

“My thoughts are with the staff at Great Yarmouth Debenhams who, through no fault of their own, now face an uncertain future following this announcement.”

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