News that Debenhams stores across Scotland, including the unit in Dumfries, will not re-open after lockdown lifts, is a serious blow to the high street, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

It was announced in January that fashion retailer Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand and website but is not taking on any of the stores or workforce.

Colin Smyth said: “This has been a devastating time for staff at Debenhams Dumfries. Overall, it’s been a dreadful year for retail and my thoughts are very much with them and their families.

“Unfortunately, Debenhams staff have been living with this uncertainty for a long time, in April 2019 Debenhams entered administration for the first time and again in April 2020. Then in December, it was reported that last ditch attempts to save the firm had failed.

“Boohoo has hailed this as a ‘transformative deal’ but this will be of no consolation to the 12,000-odd workforce across the whole country who are set to lose their jobs in the middle of a pandemic.

“It is time the UK Government looks seriously at increasing taxation for large online traders in order to level the playing field for high street shops. Unless action is taken soon, our high streets, which have been so important to communities for hundreds of years, are going to become ghost towns.

“The Covid pandemic has hit retail very hard but the last thing I want to see are more empty shop units on our high streets.”

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