THE opening of a Primark in a town centre would be a 'golden opportunity' to boost Barrow town centre.

Readers and community leaders have welcomed the prospect of major clothes retailer, Primark, replacing the possibly soon-to-be vacant Debenhams building in Portland Walk.

The call comes after Primark replied to a local resident on Twitter who said it was 'about time we had a store in Barrow-in-Furness' to which a spokesman responded that their suggestion had been passed on to their property department.

Primark has in the past expressed an interest in opening a Barrow store but its specific requirements, namely the need for a sufficiently-sized high street location, have failed to identify any suitable premises.

Questions were raised about replacing the empty Marks and Spencer store in Dalton Road with Primark last year, however, the retailer said Barrow is 'not on their preferred list of target trading destinations at this time.'

After news this week that Debenhams is starting its liquidation process, resulting in the loss of 12,000 jobs, Barrovians have once again raised the question of whether Primark could finally open up in the town centre.

Amy Hamblin said: "People travel to several Primark stores in the northwest, it would be nice to think that Primark would employ existing Debenhams staff and due to high unemployment it would help make our money stretch a bit further, Primark do really good household stuff.

"Added bonus we get local areas townspeople spending money here and the huge department store doesn't just stand there and rot."

John Wadsworth said: "If Debenhams were to stay I'd say no, but with that going, we don't have a single anchor tenant. Without an anchor tenant, the footfall in the town centre will decline largely, and that will damage the remaining businesses.

"The old argument was that Primark would 'kill off' other clothing stores but they have all closed anyway.

"We now need Primark so people have a reason to visit the town centre, and to increase footfall to keep the other businesses afloat.

"Otherwise we'll have a multi-million pound shopping street which resembles a ghost town, and the main entrance to it's car park will be boarded up.

"The reason Primark said no last time was because they didn't want to be down the far end at the old M&S. This is a golden opportunity.

"I'd like to see the council and the BID to encourage Primark opening, otherwise the town centre will continue it's decline."

Barrow Borough Council's lead member for Economic Development and deputy leader Lee Roberts said he would welcome any retailer which would create employment in the town.

He said: "Every time there is an empty building Primark's name comes up so it's obviously a very popular option.

"If we want to replace a big retail outlet with another one, Primark does sound like a good option and there does seem to be a demand for it.

"I know they've been asked previously and said it's not in plans.

"Debenhams' closure is disappointing and I'd welcome anything which would replace those jobs so people don't have to worry about employment.

"I certainly think there's other options other than Primark.

"Debenhams is a big store and if we can't attract a similar-sized retailer, it might be a better idea to have lots of smaller shops on the lower floor which would be a more viable option.

"I don't think all is lost with the closure of Debenhams.

"We were successful in the Town's Deal which will mean a university campus and possibly student accommodation in the town centre, a vibrant night time economy and a food court which would change the whole feel of the town centre.

"We're also still waiting to find out about the Future High Street Fund which, if successful, would make the town centre more vibrant and encourage more people to visit the high street."

Colin Garnett, Barrow BID manager, however, is still urging shoppers to support the town centre Debenhams which could be saved.

He said: "Debenhams is still trading and will be open until at least late January. "I would ask local people to continue to support Barrow’s Debenhams as it might be a case that individual stores or profitable stores are bought out or retained."