I WAS reading an article in a business magazine a couple of weeks ago about the potential effects of the lockdown introduced as a result of coronavirus.

I think it’s fair to say that business in general is quite pragmatic and doesn’t really demonstrate a great deal of sympathy or empathy.

Companies are either profitable and successful or they’re not. If they’re not, they go bust unless they sector they operate in is considered vital or ‘too big to fail’.

Just look back to the economic crisis of 2008 and despite the fact the crash was caused by the banks, the entire banking sector had to be bailed out by the government.

In the current pandemic crisis, airlines have been hit particularly hard but there is every likelihood the government will take steps to protect the aviation industry.

In any event, the article I read made a stark point – if a business didn’t have enough reserves to last eight weeks of lockdown, it was probably in a terminal state anyway.

The high street is littered with big-name failures, from Woolworths to Jamie Oliver’s 15.

But on a local level, the news that Debenhams in Golden Square is closing is really sad news.

As someone who knows all about suddenly losing a job, my heart goes out to all the employees who are now facing an uncertain future.

But it’s also bad for Golden Square and the town centre.

Debenhams – the flagship site in Golden Square – opened in Warrington in 2007 following the extension to Golden Square. It is the second big name store to pull down the shutters after Marks and Spencer pulled out in 2017.

And they signs don’t look good for the future. Despite what the Guardian described as ‘positive interest’ early last year, the Marks and Spencer unit remains empty after more than two years so I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of a new tenant in the Debenhams unit any time soon.

Interestingly, Warrington is one of only seven stores across the country that will not re-open once lockdown restrictions are lifted after talks between the company and its landlords agreed terms to save around 120 of its 142 branches.

Debenhams chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste said: “I’m delighted with the progress we are making with our landlord discussions, which reflects the pragmatic view the vast majority of them are taking of the current market.

“We have agreed terms on the vast majority of our UK stores and talks are proceeding positively on the remainder.

“Regrettably we have been unable to reach agreement on seven stores and these will not be reopening.”

So the problem for the Warrington store appears to be over the rent it pays to the landlords of Golden Square.

It’s a pity they couldn’t do that deal and keep it open but as I said earlier, business is pragmatic and doesn’t really demonstrate a great deal of sympathy.

The closure of Debenhams does raise other questions about what sort of town Warrington is, what it wants to be and what it should be. I think Warrington has something of an identity crisis on its hands.

It’s not that long ago there were aspirations for Warrington to become a city. I always felt that was misguided and a waste of effort and resources. The fact is Warrington is just a big town – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Can a town like Warrington sustain a department store such as Debenhams when we have Liverpool and Manchester just down the road? The answer is obviously not.

But a much more pertinent question is should a town like Warrington be trying to attract stores such as Debenhams?

I’m not suggesting for one moment that the town should have a lack of ambition. What I am saying is that overreaching ambition isn’t always the best way to go.