Sheffield's Debenhams handed lifeline as Mike Ashley takeover discussions begin

Beleagured department store chain Debenhams has been handed a lifeline as Mike Ashley’s Frasers group enters talks about a rescue deal.

Monday, 7th December 2020, 12:42 pm

The store, which has premises on The Moor and in Meadowhall in Sheffield annoujced last week that it would cease its operations if a takeover could not be arranged.

This put 12,000 jobs at risk. It is believed that the collapse of Philip Green’s Arcadia group, which ran many of the concessions within Debenhams, prompted the potential liquidation.

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

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Debenhams, The Moor. Picture: Chris Etchells

“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,” it said.

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

Last week saw a bloodbath on the high street as both Debenhams and 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.

The chain has already cut 6,500 jobs across its operation due to heavy cost-cutting after it entered administration for the second time in 12 months.

In June it closed all of its cafes, leaving staff unemployed and without furlough during the first lockdown. These since reopened as concessions.