What will happen to Meadowhall's giant Debenhams store? Shopping centre issues statement on future of shuttered unit

A giant former Debenhams store in Meadowhall is still empty three months after the chain closed for good - but bosses say there is ‘encouraging interest’ from potential occupiers.

The end of Park Lane at Meadowhall is quiet following the closure of Debenhams and a combined TopShop and TopMan adjacnet.q

The closure of the 242-year-old retailer was announced by administrators in December.

The two-storey unit at the end of Park Lane closed in May after the fashion chain went under with the loss of 12,000 jobs.

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In June, Meadowhall director Darren Pearce said he hoped to announce new occupiers ‘in summer’.

Today it remains shuttered, alongside a former TopShop and TopMan, making the end of that wing very quiet compared to the usual mega-mall bustle.

Charlotte Whitley, head of communications at Meadowhall co-owner British Land, said: “We continue to see encouraging interest in the former Debenhams unit at Meadowhall, with active discussions ongoing with high quality occupiers to take the space.

“The recent opening of the new Flannels Lifestyle Store has been a big boost and we are receiving a lot of leasing interest across the centre.

“Footfall has been very encouraging over the summer linked to the further relaxation of Covid constraints.”

As recently as 2019, Debenhams had 165 department stores and 25,000 staff.

A former Debenhams store on The Moor in Sheffield city centre also remains closed.

The Star last week revealed it has new owners after being snapped up for a bargain £1.5m by London property firm MHA. The company has yet to reveal its intentions.

But a former Debenhams on Briggate in Leeds will become student flats and shops, it was revealed yesterday.

Meanwhile, in June, Mr Pearce also insisted plans for a £150m extension at Meadowhall were still on despite the closures. Planning permission for a £300m ‘leisure hall’ was granted in 2018.

The project was pulled early in 2020 due to the pandemic. British Land submitted a revised application for a £150m scheme at the end of 2020.

The firm has been asked for an update.

Flannels Beauty opened in Meadowhall in July promising the ‘world’s first’ beauty changing rooms, described as interactive, digitally-connected private spaces designed to test, trial and play with beauty.

It also has a beauty bar where people can ‘try products over coffee or fizz with friends’, plus a personal shopping and concierge service.