Uncertain future for Debenhams staff as store goes into administration

Staff at Debenhams stores are facing an uncertain future as the chain collapsed into administration with around 50 stores to close.

Lenders seized control of the department store chain on Tuesday 9 April, in a move that completely wipes out the stake held by Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley in the business.

Debenhams, which has 165 stores nationwide, will “continue trading as normal”.

The retailer has still not named any of the 50 stores it is planning to close – and says they are unlikely to be identified anytime soon.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct had made a revised £200m rescue offer for Debenhams, delaying the department store’s administration.

The billionaire had proposed Debenhams’ lenders would have to agree to write off £82m, as well as install him as chief executive.

Lenders to Debenhams said the latest proposal, on the terms set out, was “not sufficient”.

Administrators at FTI Consulting were appointed to the retailer at just before 10am on Tuesday and immediately sold the group’s operating companies to a new entity owned by its lenders.

Stakes in the business held by other shareholders have also been wiped out.

Debenhams said in a statement: “The board confirms that it received a revised, highly-conditional, proposal from Sports Direct in the early hours of April 9, which indicated a willingness of Sports Direct to underwrite an equity issue of £200m.

“The company’s lenders have confirmed to the company that the proposal, on the terms set out, was not sufficient to justify an extension to the 8 April deadline.”

Mr Ashley’s attempts to take control of Debenhams had become increasingly desperate, and over the weekend the businessman demanded the board be investigated, two members to undergo lie detector tests and trading in its shares to be suspended.

Sports Direct added on Tuesday that it is continuing to “actively evaluate” a conventional takeover, priced at 5p per share.

FTI Consulting chairman Terry Duddy said: “It is disappointing to reach a conclusion that will result in no value for our equity holders.

“However, this transaction will allow Debenhams to continue trading as normal; access the funding we need; and proceed with executing our turnaround plans.”

TNT Business

Photo Credit: Infinity Funny

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