Takeover of former Debenhams department store in Bristol confirmed

Work took place this week to empty the huge store of its retail fixtures

The former Debenhams department store in Bristol city center has a new owner, it can be revealed today (October 12) – as shop fittings in the historic six-storey building were thrown outside.

A London-based company called 33 Horsefair Limited took over and is now listed as the ‘main responsible’ for the huge department store on a document from Bristol City Council stating who is responsible for paying business rates.

The company, set up in November last year, is led by Louise Staniforth and Nicholas Winsley, both board members of property managers AEW UK, which is one of Bristol city center’s largest landlords .

AEW UK also has significant control over 33 Horsefair Limited, owning at least 75% of the shares, according to its Companies House registration.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said Mayor Marvin Rees had had discussions with the new owners but could not be brought in to comment on their behalf. BristolWorld has approached both 33 Horsefair Limited and AEW UK for comment.

The front of the old Debenhams store today (12 October) – the site has been sold

At this point, it’s unclear what the new owners want to do with the site. In May last year, AEW UK managing director Richard Tanner told the publication wire of the city this Government reforms of planning laws which facilitate the conversion of empty shops into housing had presented new opportunities in a purchase of Bristol properties for its portfolio.

AEW UK now has several properties in the city center including Broadmead, Union Street, Bond Street and Queen Square.

Workers remove interior fittings such as rails and displays from inside the former Debenhams store

It was May last year when the Debenhams store closed, ending almost 50 years in the city for the retail chain which went into administration.

Today, sheet metal covers its doors and windows while graffiti has been sprayed above its entrance. A panel was installed in her tall elevator window for demolition company Lawson Group.

At the side of the former department store, workers could be seen dropping interior fittings such as rails and displays into a chute connected to scaffolding. Once on the floor of the delivery yard, the items were placed in a large dumpster.

Prior to the takeover, Debenhams owned the lease on the site with a term to 2056. The freehold owner of the site is still Bristol City Council.