Shoppers warned they need to use Debenhams if they want to see the brand survive

Debenhams, Arc shopping centre at Bury St Edmunds. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Debenhams, Arc shopping centre at Bury St Edmunds. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

The Ipswich branch of Debenhams is safe, for now, but Ipswich Vision board chairman Terry Hunt says it would be naive to think it will still be around in another 100 years.

Mr Hunt welcomed the news that the department store had escaped the axe today - along with those in Bury St Edmunds, Colchester and Chelmsford, as the chain revealed the 22 branches that will be shutting up shop next year.He said: “It would be naive of me to think that Debenhams is safe for another 100 years but at least it is safe and not closing now.“We were originally very concerned because it is the largest store in Ipswich and right next to the regenerated Cornhill.”He continued: “It is a vote of confidence in Ipswich. It comes at a time when we are working very hard, on the Ipswich Vision board, to re-invigorate Ipswich town centre, and to attract people and bring them back to enjoy the town centre.“The town centre has many positives at the moment. The Cornhill is looking great and more than 25,000 people have been along to Christchurch Mansion to see the Rodin exhibition.”Local businessman Kie Humphreys, who runs the Coffee Cat Cafe in the Town Hall, said: “This is great news for Ipswich.“The closure of Debenhams would leave a massive hole in the town centre.”He also described a positive air in the town centre and added: “The Cornhill is looking lovely at the moment, with the fountains on. It is a great space for public events and for people just meeting up and chatting. “It is good to see so many people taking selfies with the fountains, and sharing them on social media. That is publicity you couldn’t buy.”Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere added: “I am very pleased that the Ipswich Debenhams is not in this wave of closures.“We are very aware of the difficulties the group nationally is facing. We have been told by Debenhams that the Ipswich store is a profitable one. We would hope that we would be able to hang on to our Debenhams.”However, he too believes the store may not be around forever and added: “Clearly this is the first round of closures. There is always going to be a worry and a sense of nervousness about the future of this Debenhams in Ipswich.“We have had a reprieve, if people want to keep Debenhams then they have to shop there.”

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