Retail tycoon Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is in talks over a ‘potential rescue transaction’ for the British department store Debenhams. The brand fell into administration last week, putting some 12,000 jobs at risk.
Frasers has said that it was ‘in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams’ UK business’ on a possible deal, but it has warned that time is short for the retail brand.
In a stock market statement, it said: “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.”
Details of the talks were first disclosed over the weekend by The Sunday Times.
Finance director Chris Wootton reportedly said that under the deal, Frasers would “hope to be able to save as many jobs as possible.”
Debenhams announced that it was to wind down its business and close all 124 stores after JD Sports ended discussions over a rescue deal for the struggling department store chain. Talks ended between the two companies following the collapse of Arcadia Group.
The sports chain was the only remaining bidder for the company, but with the news of the collapse of Arcadia Group last week – the biggest concession stand operator across Debenhams stores – so too came the decision of JD Sports to terminate its talks of a takeover.
Debenhams slid into insolvency in April this year and has been on the search for a buyer since the summer. Without a buyer, the business faces going into liquidation or being wound down. This spring saw Debenhams axe 6,500 jobs. Its current predicament puts a further 12,000 at risk.