The Debenhams department store group’s takeover by lenders paves the way for store closures across the UK that could put thousands of jobs at stake. Debenhams employs close to 25,000 people across the UK.
Cost cutting plans by the new owners put 50 stores under the threat of closure, although the closures will be held back till at least Christmas 2019. A pre-pack administration deal will allow 165 UK outlets to stay open for business.
With the group falling into administration, Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley’s investment in Debenhams, which had a market value of £300 million in early 2018 now stands wiped out. Sports Direct had tried to pump in £200 million into the business but the deal fell through after the group’s lenders rejected a proposal to make Mike Ashley the chief executive officer.
According to media reports, Debenhams’ lenders paid £101.8 million for the group while assuming pension obligations and £520 million of loans for a deal that cost £621.81 million. With the total amount matching the value of Debenhams’ debts when it plunged into administration, nothing was left to pay the shareholders.