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Frasers Group in talks over potential Debenhams rescue deal

By Huw Hughes

7 Dec 2020

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has confirmed it is in talks over a potential rescue of Debenhams’ UK operations.

It comes after the department store chain’s administrators FRP Advisory announced last week that it would be winding down the business and closing its 124 stores, putting some 12,000 jobs at risk. Hopes had rested on a last-minute rescue deal from JD Sports, which fell through.

Debenhams fell into ‘light touch’ administration back in April.

Frasers Group, whose empire has been built on snapping up other companies, said in a statement Monday: “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. There is no certainty that any transaction will take place, particularly if discussions cannot be concluded swiftly.”

Frasers Group in Debenhams rescue talks

The group, whose portfolio of brands includes Sports Direct, House of Fraser and Jack Wills, was previously considered a potential suitor for Debenhams, but exited the race in November after failing to match a 300 million pound price tag demanded by Debenhams’ advisers.

At the time, Frasers Group’s chief financial officer Chris Wootton wrote to the chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, saying that the price tag for Debenhams was “impossible” for all but insiders to reach, The Times reported.

Wootton added that this meant Debenhams would be bought by its present owners or restructuring specialist Hilco, which would “look to turn the remnants of Debenhams into cash before leaving a bare carcass stripped to the bone”.

Photo credit: FashionUnited