Debenhams: The final days of the historic department store

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor

This weekend will see the final time Debenhams will be open on the high street.

Its last stores will close on Friday and Saturday for the final time as it encouraged shoppers to take advantage of remaining discounts.

Debenhams has been struggling for years to keep up with online competitors and finally went into liquidation last year.

The brand will live on online but the sprawling shops, with their racks of clothes, electrical items, kitchens and outdoor products will end.

In Basingstoke, the historic department store will open for the final time on Saturday.

Debenhams open for the final time in Basingstoke. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The store which was built in 2002 as part of the Festival Place shopping centre will shut at 5:30pm (15 May), resulting in dozens of job losses.

There's been a mixed reaction to the news, with some people in Basingstoke saying it will be a loss, while others say they won't miss its presence in the town.

"Yeah I think many people are going to miss it because sometimes when you walk past it you see a lot of people in there."

"Yes, very sad indeed because it was the one store you could just wander around and browse."

"It's quite sad because it's been here for quite a long time so I don't know, I guess it will be missed."

Lizzy Harwood has been working at the Brighton branch of Debenhams for 11 years and is sad to see it go.

The early years

Debenhams began life as a drapers store in 1778 at 44 Wigmore Street in London’s West End, where William Clark sold expensive fabrics, bonnets, gloves and parasols.

In 1813, William Debenham offered an investment in the firm, which then became Clark & Debenham and marked the beginning of the Debenham family involvement.

A picture from a Debenhams January sale, 1969 in Norwich Credit: ITV Anglia

Things started to happen for the firm as they expanded into Cheltenham in 1818 with a store matching the design of the original exactly.