Mike Ashley launches bid to save Debenhams jobs

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is in talks to save Debenhams’ UK business.

By David Nowell
Monday, 7th December 2020, 10:59 am
Debenhams in Preston
Debenhams in Preston

Frasers confirmed it is in negotiations with the department store’s administrators about a possible rescue deal which it hopes can save at least some of the 12,000 jobs that have been put at risk by the retailer’s potential liquidation.

However, there are complications, and if a deal is not agreed quickly, Frasers said it may not go ahead.

It said: “Whilst Frasers Group hopes that a rescue package can be put in place and jobs saved, time is short and the position is further complicated by the recent administration of the Arcadia Group, Debenhams’ biggest concession holder.

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“There is no certainty that any transaction will take place, particularly if discussions cannot be concluded swiftly.”

Debenhams has major anchor stores at both the Fishergate Centre in Preston and the Houndshill shopping centre in Blackpool.

Last week saw a bloodbath on the high street as both Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia, which owns Topshop and Burton among others,

were put at risk.

Debenhams looked as though it might disappear from the high street after 242 years when JD Sports pulled out of a potential deal to buy the business out of administration.

Frasers finance boss Chris Wootton signalled over the weekend that his company might be interested in a deal for Debenhams, in an interview with the Sunday Times.

“We hope to be able to save as many jobs as possible,” he told the paper.

“However, we have found that Debenhams has been overly reliant on Arcadia for many years, and, with the administration of Arcadia last week, as well as no end in sight to the outdated business rates regime which unduly punishes the likes of Debenhams, it may be a bridge too far.”