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Debenhams sits on the corner of Guildhall Street and the High Street

High Street in peril: Now Debenhams on the brink

Canterbury’s Debenhams outlet could be forced to shut amid a cull of a third of the retail giant’s stores.

The revelation follows the biggest loss in the company’s 240-year history as it reports a £500 million loss in the year up to September 1.

According to industry sources, it will result in the closure of a third of its 165 stores as it faces a period of transformation in a constantly shifting retail sector.

The closures will take place over a five-year period.

While no stores have yet been identified as earmarked for closure, Canterbury has proved that it is not necessarily strong enough to withstand the travails of this fragile industry.

Chancellor Philip Hammond

Nasons shut in September, preceded by Poundworld and before that by other smaller retailers including Pure Magik and other independent shops.

Debenhams store closures will affect some 5,000 jobs.

The firm has also seen its share price nosedive by 80 per cent.

And the threat facing Debenhams is increasing pressure on Chancellor Philip Hammond to act to arrest the decline of the High Street in his forthcoming Budget.

There are growing calls for an overhaul of the system of business rates.

Robert Hayton, the head of UK business rates at data and technology firm Altus Group, said: “While business rates are rarely the sole reason for store closures, they certainly are a contributory factor, being one of the least negotiable taxes.

“In certain areas, with unique challenges, or where there is a loss of an major store, it may require councils taking a cut in business rates from businesses that they believe will help become or continue to be destinations.

“While that might mean a reduction in their rates pot today, longer term, it will deliver far greater economic and social benefits.”

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