Portsmouth MP suggests: ‘John Lewis should move into Debenhams store in Southsea’
A PORTSMOUTH MP says he wants to see John Lewis fill the void when Debenhams leaves Southsea.
Yesterday Debenhams revealed it would be closing its Palmerston Road store next year, as part of a nationwide programme to cut costs and try to get the business back on track.
It follows the announcement earlier this year that department store Knight and Lee, which is opposite Debenhams in Southsea, would be closed by owner John Lewis in July this year.
While plans have been floated to turn the Debenhams store into a Sherlock Holmes museum or a cinema, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has said that asking John Lewis to move into Debenhams would be the best way forward.
Mr Morgan said: ‘I am deeply concerned by Debenhams’ closure as another high street chain leaves Southsea.
‘This is bad news for residents and visitors in one of our vital city shopping areas.
‘Last year I wrote to the company’s chief executive about the importance of our two Debenhams stores being key anchors in Portsmouth’s high streets providing employment and also generating footfall which assists other independent shops in our area. This is bad news for residents, visitors and our city’s economy.
‘Debenhams joins the ranks of Knight & Lee as the latest nail in the coffin for Portsmouth’s shopping streets.’
Mr Morgan added: ‘Knight & Lee have cited size and building capacity as the reasons for closure. The obvious solution would be for John Lewis and Partners to open a branch within the now closing Debenhams property. This would both work towards saving the vital jobs likely to be lost with the closure of Knight & Lee and retain a much-cherished asset used by the community.
‘I hope that the council and other important stakeholders will join me in championing this solution to two of Southsea’s most prominent high street closures and I hope that John Lewis and Partners back this positive plan for Portsmouth.’
The Portsmouth MP said he would follow up the idea with John Lewis and Partners. He is also putting forward the notion of establishing a task force that would specifically aim to retain and protect jobs in the retail sector.
John Lewis declined to comment on the idea for it to move into the Debenhams building.