DEBENHAMS has pulled out of Barnsley's planned town centre regeneration scheme.
The retailer had issued a warning following poor Christmas sales which saw profits nearly £30m lower than last year - a drop of 26 per cent.
The company has now walked away from an agreement to anchor the new town centre shopping centre with an 80,000sq ft branch.
The retailer insists the decision isn't related to its poor trading figures - but because a presence in Barnsley is unnecessary because of its proximity to existing stores at Meadowhall, Doncaster and Wakefield.
But the leader of Barnsley Council says the news isn't the body blow to regeneration plans that some people initially feared.
Sir Steve Houghton says revised plans for the town centre, which will soon be revealed, don't rely on or even include the presence of a Debenhams store.
Cllr Houghton said: "Debenhams have taken a national decision.
"On a local level we've been in the process of revising the proposals for Barnsley town centre for some time and they don't include a Debenhams.
"We will be making an announcement this week on these revised town centre regeneration plans which we think will suit Barnsley better for the future."
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said: "This is obviously disappointing news.
"However, I know that Barnsley Council is looking carefully at this.
"I will be working with them, local businesses and the public to ensure that we have a town centre which once again draws people in."
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