Future looks grim for Debenhams employees as JD Sports withdraws from rescue talks

Former Debenhams site at Westwood Cross

The future for thousands of Debenhams employees, including those at Westwood Cross, looks grim after rescue talks collapsed.

JD Sports, which was the only bidder remaining for the company, has withdrawn.

It is understood the action has been taken because Arcadia – which has also collapsed – was a main concession operator at the stores.

It is increasingly likely that Debenhams will be wound down with the closure of 124 stores and the loss of some 12,000 jobs.

The company had already closed a number of outlets and cut more than 6,000 staff this year.

It filed notice of intent to appoint an administrator for a second time in two years in April this year. Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory were appointed in relation to the possible administration.

It is understood Debenhams will close stores early next year.

The collapse of Arcadia – responsible for stores such as Top Shop -has put 13,000 jobs at risk.

A statement from the Debenhams group says: “Debenhams confirms that its administrators, FRP Advisory, have concluded the initial sale process that was part of their assessment of options for the UK business in administration.

“Those options included a sale of all or part of the UK business; a further restructure of Debenhams’ operations to go forward on a standalone basis; or the orderly wind-down of the Debenhams business.

“The sale process has not resulted in a deliverable proposal. Given the current trading environment and the likely prolonged effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for a restructured operation is highly uncertain.

“The administrators have therefore regretfully concluded that they should commence a wind-down of Debenhams UK, whilst continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business.”

Debenhams will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks. On conclusion of this process, if no alternative offers have been received, the UK operations will close.

Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams and Partner at FRP, said: “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams.

“However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached. The decision to move forward with a closure programme has been carefully assessed and, while we remain hopeful that alternative proposals for the business may yet be received, we deeply regret that circumstances force us to commence this course of action.

“We are very grateful for the efforts of the management team and staff who have worked so hard throughout the most difficult of circumstances to keep the business trading. We would also like to thank the landlords, suppliers and partners who have continued to work with Debenhams through this turbulent period and can reassure them that all contractual obligations entered into in the administration period will be met in full.”

1 Comment

  1. I reckon Debenhams at Westwood would be a great site for a new TDC building, has all it needs for its disabled staff. Might save several million quid building a new one. Wake up TDC opportunity in front of your eyes.

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