Debenhams appoints administrators

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Debenhams has gone into administration after it rejected plans by Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley to save the chain.

FTI Consulting has been appointed as administrators for the department store, which operates 165 shops. The stores will continue to trade as normal but Debenhams is expected to close 50 branches in future.

Debenhams’ 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, whilst deleveraging the Group’s balance sheet.

“We remain focused on protecting as many stores and jobs as possible, consistent with establishing a sustainable store portfolio in line with our previous guidance.

“In the meantime, our customers, colleagues, pension holders, suppliers and landlords can be reassured that Debenhams will now be able to move forward on a stable footing. I would like to thank them all for their recent and continuing support.”

Richard Lim, chief executive, Retail Economics said: “We should not understate the significance of this collapse given the vast property portfolio, number of jobs impacted and the reverberations felt across many high streets. 

“Debenhams has fallen victim to crippling levels of debt, which has paralysed its ability to pivot towards a more digital and experience-led retail model. 

“Put simply, the business has been out manoveured by more nimble competitors, failed to embrace change and was left with a tiring proposition. The industry is evolving fast and it paid the ultimate price.”