THE future of the prominent Debenhams site in Salisbury is up in the air, the building’s owner says, as the department store pulls out of the city.

The firm’s bosses say the decision came as they were unable to reach “appropriate terms” with the landlord, after the business went into administration on April 9.

But now the owner of the Blue Boar Row building Smith and Bradbeer – which also runs the Bradbeers department stores in Romsey and New Milton – has confirmed to the Journal that discussions will now be had to decide what is next for the Salisbury site.

Director Greg Davies said: “At the moment we live in unprecedented times and the economic outlook is a bit dire.

“We now need to sit down and think about what we should do next.”

He added: “We got the keys back [on Tuesday], and we obviously weren’t expecting that.”

Asked about the possibility of a Bradbeers store taking over the building, Mr Davies said: “We will have to see what the future holds. We need to evaluate.

“It’s a prominent site; it’s a difficult situation.”

One suggestion made by Mayor John Walsh is to make it the new permanent home of the Young Gallery, which is currently housed in the soon-to-be moved library.

Cllr Walsh said: “New start-up businesses could also go in there as was recently tried in the High Street. I hope the BID will take a lead and come up with some ideas on how the site can best be used.”

He added: “I am desperately sorry to hear it is closing. It will be a great loss to the city.”

Following the announcement on Friday that the store was to leave the city after nearly 50 years, Salisbury MP John Glen said: “It has been clear, given the ongoing commentary around Debenhams nationally, that Salisbury’s branch would not be exempt from risk of closure.

“I have sought to engage with options which would create a productive and appropriate future use for the building.

“I will continue to do everything I can to support the new owners as they seek to replace this significant space in our market square.”

The closure is part of a nationwide cull of seven stores, as well as the loss of 422 jobs.

However, the firm said it had agreed terms with landlords to continue trading at 120 of its 142 UK stores.

It is not known the future of the company’s remaining 22,000 staff.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, the chief executive officer of Debenhams, said:"Regrettably we have been unable to reach agreement on seven stores and these will not be reopening, and I’d like to express my thanks to our colleagues in these stores at what I know is a difficult time for everyone.”