CONCERNS have been raised about the future of Witney’s high street after Debenhams announced it will be closing its doors in the town later this month.

The store in Marriotts Walk is one of 19 branches across the country set to close this month.

Witney’s store will close on Wednesday, January 15, and is one of six that are set to close that day, alongside stores in Great Yarmouth and Slough.

West Oxfordshire district councillor Andrew Coles, whose ward includes Marriott Walk, said: “This is a serious situation and I am desperately saddened as a regular customer there myself.

“I am deeply worried about the future of the high street and it really is a big concern.

See also: Major police response as man brought down with Taser

“There are lots of empty shops in Witney but we have a resilient community and I sincerely hope we will bounce back.

“There are a number of independent traders who I worry about - they’re in a much harder position than the big chains.

“There is no question these are tough financial times and it is up to all of us now to support our town, and the brick and mortar, rather than buying online.”

Fellow councillor Luci Ashbourne said: “The high street has become an increasingly difficult place for businesses to make money.

“The Debenhams unit is huge with a lot of potential and I hope this isn’t indicative of more places closing.”

Oxford Mail:

Witney MP Robert Courts added: “It is a great shame that Witney’s high street will lose Debenhams, not only a major provider of local employment but a major high street shopping destination.

“This decision also shows the difficulties that stores like Debenhams have in competing with online marketplaces and the challenges facing all high streets as they adapt to these challenges.

“It is to be hoped that all who work there will find good jobs elsewhere soon in West Oxfordshire’s lively, buoyant jobs market, and that the high street unit vacated will soon be filled.

“For its part, the Government is doing all it can to help keep our town centres vibrant by reforming business rates to protect high streets and communities.”

Mayor of Witney Duncan Enright said he was ‘sad to see such a big retailer go’.

Dorothy Perkins in Marriotts Walk closed last September, and Wallis and Evans also closed last year.

Read more: Another Harry Potter shop looks set to open in historic Oxford building

Marriotts Walk centre manager Simon Jones was unavailable for a comment, but other retailers into the shopping precinct may well be concerned about what the news means for footfall.

Debenhams chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste said: “We are working hard to implement the transformation of Debenhams.

“Despite a challenging retail environment, thanks to our colleagues’ hard work and our investor group’s commitment we are progressing with our turnaround.”

The first closures will take place this Saturday and result in 660 job losses.

The retailer intends to close 50 of its worst-performing stores over the next three years.

Debenhams entered administration last April and was rescued by creditors the next month.