Department Stores

Richest man in India interested in Debenhams acquisition

India’s richest man is reportedly one of the parties interested in making a bid to acquire Debenhams, according to Sky News.

Ambani is the chairman and largest shareholder in Resilience Industries, the parent company of Reliance Retail which owns British toy retailer Hamleys

A number of parties, including Next and Frasers Group, are reportedly in discussions to acquire parts of or all of the department store chain, which has been up for sale since July as part of its administration process.

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Lazard, the investment firm overseeing the sale of Debenhams’ core business assets in the UK, has asked potential buyers to submit offers by 5pm on 1 September.

Restructuring firm Hilco Capital was hired last month to work on “contingency plans” for Debenhams as a last resort if no acquisition is made, which would place 12,000 jobs at risk.

Debehams entered administration during lockdown in April and so far has permanently shut 20 stores and slashed 6,500 jobs since March.

When speaking to the BBC earlier this month, Debenhams’ chairman Mark Gifford said: “We are sitting with over £95m in the bank, more than £50m higher than we expected to have when we went into administration.

“Undoubtedly there will be fewer stores. When the company went through its CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) in 2019 they said maybe 50 stores would need to close – they closed 20.”

He added: “Maybe there’s another 30 to close. Nobody knows the answer. We’re looking at this every day now – which stores are viable and which are not.”


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