ONE of the last flagship stores on Barrow's high street is closing for good.

The announcement that Debenhams' shops will permanently close after it was purchased by an online retailer has been labelled as a 'big blow'.

Concerns have been raised for staff members after the retail giant was bought by online-only fashion site Boohoo for £55 million.

The deal will see the brand operate as an online-only retailer from next year. It will not include stores as part of the structured winding down of the business.

Debenhams was hit by a fall in sales amid the coronavirus pandemic and confirmed plans for the winding down of operations in December after rescue talks with JD Sports fell through.

But with stores closing across the 242-year-old brand, it is unlikely many of the remaining 12,000 jobs will be saved.

Bill McEwan, a Barrow Borough Councillor, described the deal as a 'big blow' to Debenhams staff members across the country.

He said: "This announcement is a big blow to Debenhams staff throughout the country but especially in Barrow too.

"I know staff members were concerned about whether they would keep their jobs if Debenhams was to be bought out and it's really disappointing that the stores will be closed.

"I know the retailer that has bought Debenhams out is online-only which isn't a great service for those customers who don't do online shopping.

"I really hope whoever takes over the building will create jobs and make the town centre thrive."

Boohoo said the deal represents a 'fantastic opportunity' to target new customers and launch into the beauty, sports and homewares market for the first time.

Founder and executive chairman Mahmud Kamani said: “Our acquisition of the Debenhams brand is strategically significant as it represents a huge step which accelerates our ambition to be a leader, not just in fashion e-commerce, but in new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.”

Boohoo has previously bought a number of well-known high street brands out of administration, turning them into online-only operations, including Oasis, Coast and Karen Millen.