Department Stores

Debenhams seeks potential buyer

Debenhams has confirmed that administrators are considering its sale to a third party in a bid to lead the business out of its current administration. 

According to The Guardian, the department store group has now appointed investment bank Lazard to oversee the sale process, and “hopes to secure a buyer before the end of September”.

In a statement, the retailer said: “Now that Debenhams has 124 stores in the UK open and is trading ahead of expectations, the administrators of Debenhams Retail Ltd have initiated a process to assess ways for the business to exit its protective administration. 

“There are a range of possible outcomes which could include the current owners retaining the business, potential new joint venture arrangements (with existing and potential new investors) or a sale to a third party, and the administrators will be guided by what delivers the best outcome for creditors.”

Debenhams collapsed into administration in April, and appointed Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory to handle the process.

The group said it entered administration in order to “protect Debenhams in the UK from the threat of legal action” that could have the effect of pushing the business into liquidation while its sites remained closed. 

The administrators have since been working alongside the group in a “light touch” administration.

Last month, the group confirmed that a further three of its sites would not reopen following lockdown, bringing its total outlet closures to 20. Prior to that, the group announced that at least 1,000 jobs had been axed as it shuttered a further five stores. 

News of the latest development comes as rival John Lewis announced its plans to close eight sites, in a move that would put 1,300 jobs at risk, while Marks and Spencer confirmed it was axing 950 jobs in a bid to restructure its business in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

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