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Swansea Council purchases former Debenhams store

SWANSEA’S former Debenhams store has been bought by the council, thanks to Welsh Government funding.

Council chiefs will begin looking for retailers following initial discussions with a number of parties.

The flagship store at the Quadrant Shopping Centre closed in 2021 after Debenhams went into administration.

Council leader Rob Stewart said it was a very important building for the ongoing regeneration of the city centre and that the authority was very keen to see it brought back into retail use as soon as possible. There could potentially be some leisure use as well.

“The former Debenhams store is a large and complex building that had been in private ownership, so discussions about buying the building were always going to take time,” said Cllr Stewart.

“Now the building is owned by the council we’ll have more control over talks with potential tenants and securing a retail use there is the next step of our plan. Alongside the Welsh Government we’ll also be able to look at how the building can be refurbished and adapted for future uses.

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“Creating a long-term, vibrant future for the former Debenham’s unit will help protect Swansea city centre and encourage existing and new retailers to continue investing in our city.”

The Swansea Labour leader said he was very grateful to the Welsh Government for providing £2.85 million for the purchase through its Transforming Towns fund. The four-storey building has 114,000sq ft of commercial floor space that could, said the council, support 600 jobs. Debenhams only occupied three storeys.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I am pleased Transforming Towns is supporting Swansea Council in bringing this landmark building back into use as part of its wider proposals for the economic growth of the city centre.”

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “There has been a change in retailing trends nationally in recent times from online retail to favour town centres, so now that the purchase is complete we’ll do all we can to make the most of this by aiming to secure retail use at the former Debenham’s unit.

“It would complement all we’re doing to improve the city centre, with Swansea Arena now open and plans to revamp Castle Square Gardens due to follow-on from major improvements of areas including Wind Street and The Kingsway.”

Oppostion leader, Cllr Chris Holley, said he welcomed the Welsh Government’s financial contribution.

“The real challenge now will be who is going to fill it,” he said. Further funding would be needed, he said, if the building was split up to accommodate different occupiers.