With Mike Ashley's JD Sports deciding not to step in, Debenhams is set to be liquidated in Q1 2021, with the likely loss of some 12,000 jobs.
Debenhams has confirmed that its administrator, FRP Advisory, has concluded the initial sale process that was part of its assessment of options for the business, which went into administration on 9th April 2020.
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 business.
With JD Sports' decision, and given the current trading environment and likely prolonged effects of the pandemic, the retailer says the outlook for a restructured operation is "highly uncertain". The administrators say they have therefore concluded that they should commence a wind-down of Debenhams UK, while 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. Upon 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 a partner at FRP, says: “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.”