ONE OF Southampton's most iconic department stores has plunged into administration.

Losing Debenhams will be a big blow to the city according to one civic chief.

While one councillor believes it will be a sad day for Southampton for the store to go.

Debenhams has appointed administrators from the FRP Advisory to oversee the process on Thursday.

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The city centre store on Queensway remains closed along with 141 others across the UK in line with Government guidance on coronavirus.

It has been reported that up to 22,000 jobs are now at risk.

However, company bosses say they will work to “re-open and trade as many stores as possible” when restrictions are lifted.

Commenting on the situation, Labour councillor for the Bargate ward, Sarah Bogle, said: "It would be a real blow for the people who work and shop there.

"Many jobs would be lost.

"It would be a real shame as it draws people to the city centre.

"It would be tough for East Street which has struggled since Westquay opened.

"It's a tough environment at the moment and it is not clear what is going."

If the site were to be redeveloped, Cllr Bogle said she would like to see more independent retailers spring up and a pedestrianised area.

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She also says there should more connectivity between St Mary's and the city centre.

John Noon, also a councillor for Bargate, added: "It will be a sad day for Southampton if we lose Debenhams.

"The store has been around for a long time. But, let's hope it can survive. I would like to see the store remain open.

"Retail is suffering at the moment throughout the UK as people's shopping habits have changed. We need to consider this when we do the city plan."

The current Southampton store is close to Hoglands Park, on a prime city-centre site, which has been a department store for decades.

It was formerly known as Edwin Jones, which opened the Queensway store 1959 after it was constructed to replace the earlier shop lost during the Blitz in 1940.

CEO of Debenhams, Stefaan Vansteenkiste, said: “In these unprecedented circumstances the appointment of the administrators will protect our business, our employees, and stakeholders, so that we are in a position to resume trading when Government restrictions are lifted."