// Debenhams gift cards expired on Sunday December 20
// Mike Ashley reported to be considering acquiring empty Debenhams stores alongside online division
// Questions over the historic department store’s 124 UK store portfolio remain as closing down sale continues
Debenhams stopped accepting gift cards on Sunday night after the store confirmed it will no longer be accepting them after December 20.
“From midnight Sunday 20th December 2020, Debenhams will no longer be accepting Debenhams gift cards, e-gift cards or vouchers on line or in stores,” said a statement on the beleaguered retailer’s website.
Elsewhere sources cited by The Mail on Sunday said Mike Ashley could be considering moving his ever-expanding retail empire into empty Debenhams stores.
The strategy would form part of a deal to acquire Debenhams, which the sources said would include its online division.
By using the empty stores, it’s thought to be an easier approach for Ashley in converting unused Debenhams outlets into his own brands, include House of Fraser, Sports Direct and Flannels.
The process of taking what landlords call ‘vacant possession’ would also mean he could avoid redundancy costs for existing staff.
It is not yet known how many of Debenhams’ 124 UK stores Ashley is considering, although The Mail on Sunday said even if the retail mogul acquired 30 to 40, another 90 would still be likely to face closure.
Debenhams is currently being run by administrators Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey at FRP, and launched a “closing down sale” last week.
The department store chain is offering up to half price off many items and even up 70 per cent off some in its physical stores and via its online business.
The closing down sale means that its UK stores and the website are continuing to trade.
However, it has been reported that the liquidation should be complete by the end of this month.