THE Issa brothers' EG Group has said it is assisting Debenhams staff who faced redundancy when the high street chain collapsed.

It follows a partnership with Newground Together who approached the company following the closure of the Blackburn town centre store which closed down on May 15.  Nationally some 12,000 workers lost their jobs.

North West social enterprise Newground Together said the petrol station and fast food outlet giant would be offering business mentoring, workshops and recruitment for people wishing to enter employment in the many sectors they service.

It is expected hundreds of people will be given opportunities with a direct pathway to apply rather than the traditional recruitment process.

Newground Together's Philip Burke said: “Here at Newground it is vital for us to bridge the gap between people and businesses. It is great to see a company like the EG Group offer a wealth of valued support and opportunities at this time. We look forward to working with the EG Group on future projects.”

Newground Together is part of Together Housing.

A spokesperson for the EG Group said the company wanted to support local communities.

He said: "Newground Together will be supporting people get into work and given the scale of the redundancies that Debenhams have made, EG Group will offer opportunities to Debenhams employees not just in Blackburn but nationally.

“We also want to retain local talent, and many of these employees will have vast experience. We will adapt our interview process to make the transition easier for employees.

“We will also carry out local workshops to speak with employees and give them tips on interview techniques and how to prepare.”

EG Group, headquartered in Haslingden Road, said it had not done a project on this scale in the past but had worked with other companies previously to support employees who were made redundant.

A spokesperson added: “We will share our current opportunities with Newground, and wherever we have vacancies and nationally, we will open up these opportunities to Debenhams employees.”

Cllr Quesir Mahmood said: "The whole Debenhams situation has been very concerning for all us, it’s a real shame to lose such a prominent retailer from our high street. The impact of this will be felt across the UK and especially in towns like Blackburn.

“I am delighted with the Newground Together / EG Group initiative to help support all those affected to find alternative employment. EG are a major employer not just in Blackburn with Darwen borough but nationally too, and I think this is a fantastic initiative by them which I am sure will be welcomed by people affected across the UK.”

Debenhams collapsed at the end of last year, with the closure of all its 52 stores confirmed after Boohoo agreed to only buy its website and brand in a £55 million rescue deal. The chain first opened in Wigmore Street, London in 1778 when William Clark opened a shop in London’s West End, selling fabrics, bonnets and parasols.