DEPARTMENT store chain Debenhams has announced the permanent closure of some of its branches – with Chester escaping the axe for now.

The city centre store, along with the Ellesmere Port branch, are not among the six affected – keeping slim hopes alive that they could still be saved if a buyer can be found.

The company started a liquidation process last month after failing to secure a last-minute rescue sale.

Debenhams’ administrator FRP Advisory said it is continuing to talk with potential suitors over the possible sale of all or parts of the business.

The insolvency firm said it still intends to reopen as many stores as possible to sell off stock, despite coronavirus restrictions keeping non-essential retailers shut.

The chain is continuing to sell its stock through online platforms.

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The branches which are permanently shut are the flagship Oxford Street shop, Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate, Weymouth and Worcester. The closures have resulted in the loss of 320 jobs.

Geoff Rowley, joint administrator to Debenhams and partner at FRP, said: “We continue to engage with interested parties over alternative proposals for the future of Debenhams, but inevitably the latest lockdown has had an effect on our plans for the wind-down of the business.

“We regret the impact on those colleagues affected by today’s announcement and would like to thank all those who continue to keep the business trading in very difficult circumstances.”