Dundee’s Overgate Shopping Centre is in talks with several retailers looking to take over the former Debenhams unit.
Debenhams entered administration in December and did not reopen after this year’s lockdown.
The brand name and online operation – but not the physical stores – were purchased in January by online firm Boohoo.
Stores in Perth High Street and Dunfermline’s Kingsgate Shopping Centre also closed.
Stock from the Scottish shops were transported to England for liquidation sales.
‘Early stages of discussions’
Debenhams is the largest unit within the Overgate Centre, measuring more than 100,000 sq ft.
Overgate manager Malcolm Angus said: “Debenhams has been hanging by a thread for a couple of years.
“The Dundee store was among their top three in Scotland and just outside the top 10 in the UK.
“Sales were good, customer feedback was good but behind the scenes the company just didn’t remain viable.
“We are at very early stages of discussions with a few companies. I can’t say more at the moment.”
He said the size of the shop posed a “particular challenge”.
One option might be to split the two-storey shop into multiple units.
“There aren’t the number of massive retailers these days there were 20 years ago,” Mr Angus added.
“It’s going to take a bit of thought with the landlord and the leasing teams to come up with a solution for that space.
“We are thinking outside the box and looking at all options.”
Surge in shoppers
Overgate Shopping Centre has reported strong footfall since reopening on April 29.
The first week saw just shy of 200,000 visitors – in line with the same week in 2019. The number of shoppers last weekend was up 4% on two years ago.
This is despite the loss of Top Shop, Swarovski, Menkind and Oasis.
“I think there’s a real appetite for people to get back to normal, get back to the High Street and to spend some money,” the centre manager added.
“On the 26th we had people queueing to get into Primark from 7am.
“The atmosphere across reopening week was tremendous, instigated by a swell of consumers who have missed the pleasure of the physical shopping experience.
“The food outlets have all been busy too.
“We are optimistic this upbeat trend at Overgate will continue and deliver a summer of shopping.
“This momentum is underpinned with Overgate being named Shopping Centre of the Year.
“We anticipate this will prove a further driver of footfall and visitors to the city.”
Mr Angus said he was hopeful that Scottish Government guidelines would change in the coming months that would mean the end of restrictions on numbers and the centre’s one-way system.