New business plan for old Debenhams store could kick off before Christmas

There are hopes that a new business venture in Lynn’s former Debenhams store could be up and running by Christmas.

Kelly Ranger, who has a pop-up market at The Place on New Conduit Street, revealed her plan to revitalise the old department store on High Street in October.

She hopes to fill it with shopping and leisure attractions, offering businesses a series of self-contained units to operate from with a model similar to Afflecks in Manchester.

The old Debenhams building in Lynn could be turned around before Christmas, contractors say. Picture: Ian Burt
The old Debenhams building in Lynn could be turned around before Christmas, contractors say. Picture: Ian Burt

Last week, she hosted a meeting with potential clients to gauge interest in the project – with between 20 and 25 people turning up, which was more than expected.

These included representatives from what Ms Ranger described as “larger businesses”, as well as smaller market traders.

They were provided details on how much rent may cost to operate from the former Debenhams building, with concrete numbers to be provided moving forwards.

“The main reason for the meeting was so anybody could come along and hear the idea,” Ms Ranger said.

“The main aim is for it to be affordable for small businesses, but it has got to be viable as well.

“The meeting itself was very positive.”

The department store has been lying empty since the business closed in 2020, although Starlow Investments was granted permission to build flats in its two upper floors earlier this year.

It originally shut down when Covid-19 restrictions were put in place in early 2020 but, after two months of speculation, bosses confirmed it would not reopen.

Ms Ranger said that contractors who attended last week’s meeting said the building could be “turned around” within a few weeks – and harbour hopes of having it ready to go in time for the festive period.

The landlord is reported to back those plans.

Next up for those involved will be setting out exactly what businesses would pay to operate from the building, allowing them to compare the rates to those elsewhere in the town centre.

Nearly ten businesses put their names down to mark their interest at the meeting, while three more have contacted Ms Ranger since it took place.

“We are trying to push on,” she added.