Debenhams officially files for administration

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Debenhams officially files for administration
The "light touch" administration approach aims to bring Debenhams "back into a position to re-open and trade as many as stores as possible" once lockdown restrictions are relaxed.
// Debenhams officially files for administration
// It comes 12 months after Debenhams last fell into administration and less than a year after it launched its ongoing CVA
// Debenhams said FRP Advisory would adopt what’s described as a “light touch” administration

Debenhams has officially filed for administration, making it the second time within a year that it has taken this kind of insolvency process as it struggles amid the coronavirus crisis.

Following its notice of intent earlier this week, the embattled department store today appointed Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory as its administrators.

The news comes 12 months after Debenhams last fell into administration, which saw its current owner – a consortium of banks and lenders known as Celine – swoop in to take control and launch a CVA soon after.


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Debenhams said the decision to enter administration today was aimed at protecting the business from the threat of legal action from creditors, which could risk pushing the retailer into liquidation while its 142 UK stores remain closed due to the government-mandated lockdown.

Debenhams said FRP Advisory would adopt what’s described as a “light touch” administration, meaning the existing management team remain in place under the direct control and supervision of the administrators.

This approach aims to bring the department store chain “back into a position to re-open and trade as many as stores as possible” once lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

The administration process only pertains to Debenhams in the UK.

The retailer said that due to the challenges facing its 11 stores in Ireland, directors anticipate that the UK administrators will appoint a liquidator to Debenhams’ Irish operations.

Debenhams has already suspended trading in its stores across the republic, but now expects the majority to not reopen.

As with staff in the UK, affected Irish colleagues have been placed on furlough under the Irish Government’s payment support schemes for employers.

However, Debenahms said it would now work to support them through the liquidation process.

Debenhams officially files for administration
Debenhams today appointed Geoff Rowley & Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory as its administrators.

On the other hand, Debenhams continues to trade online across the UK, Ireland and Denmark, in line with government guidelines, while the lockdown continues.

Customer orders, gift cards and returns are also being accepted and processed normally.

“In these unprecedented circumstances the appointment of the administrators will protect our business, our employees, and other important stakeholders, so that we are in a position to resume trading from our stores when government restrictions are lifted,” Debenhams chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste said.

“We anticipate that our highly supportive owners and lenders will make additional funding available to fund the administration period.

“We are desperately sorry not to be able to keep the Irish business operating but are faced with no alternative option in the current environment.

“This decision has not been taken lightly and is no way a reflection on our Irish colleagues, whose professionalism and commitment to serving our customers has never been in question.”

When Debenhams first fell into administration in April last year, it followed a tumultuous period that saw retail tycoon Mike Ashley – who was the department store chain’s biggest shareholder at the time – attempt a boardroom coup before Celine took control.

The CVA, which was approved weeks later, included rent cuts of 25 per cent to 50 per cent on some stores and around 50 stores earmarked for closure.

The first tranche of store closures – 22 sites – took place in January, well before the coronavirus outbreak became a pandemic and sent the UK into a state of crisis.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Bit late with announcements Retail Gazette, 1,400 Irish staff told this morning that their stores will not be reopening and they are all out of jobs. In the email us staff received we were told if we have any questions to go onto gov.ie the government website. Classy.

  2. The Irish operation is in liquidation so that’s a few staff gone.
    I also expect in addition to protecting against a winding up order they are going to further review the store portfolio and reduce above the additional 28 stores due to close in 2021 will now shut immediately and a further number of stores on top.

    I would not be at all surprised to see them with circa 90 stores nationwide or even less at 70 to give them the national coverage they need nationwide.

  3. No surprise to a stores which closed where I live, in January. You can get a t-shirt there about £15 no offence if size 10 you can get one nearly anywhere for less..Understandable plus size is more expensive. Not ordinary sizing. Also their trousers are too long they don’t make different leg lengths and their coats too short! didn’t fit me either a size 22 didn’t!! Debenhams aren’t a loss. They’re like BHS and several other stores sold badly fitting Asian and Middle Eastern tat at a expensive price, consumers are savvier now and think they may as well go to Primark and cheaper shops even Asda. In fact we don’t need choice in clothing we need sizing and clothing tailor made to different shapes and sizes. We need clothes made to order with templates which prevent wasted clothes and make more money in the first place! reuse old clothes for new as well. Also more wide fitting shoes too.

  4. I forgot to add they also have Arcadia concessions in them which struggling..If a company isn’t even selling online because even middle class and famous shop in Primark it shows its out of date and irrelevant today. No loss plenty of companies online and cheaper too.

  5. I will miss Debenhams in Castle Court Belast as I always got what I wanted there, be it coats, swimwear, childrenswear, fragrance, etc. I always shopped in their sales which were brilliant value. So yes, I for one will miss the store

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