RETAIL TYCOON Mike Ashley In Talks To Save Debenhams.
British billionaire retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley is involved in Debenhams rescue talks amid fears that the chain could disappear by Christmas Last week. Fears were then raised about the futures of both Debenhams and Arcadia, potentially putting tens of thousands of retail jobs on the line in the weeks before Christmas.
Debenhams staff have been thrown a glimmer of hope after the department store chain entered 11th-hour talks with Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group about a possible rescue. The retail tycoon revived his interest in taking over Debenhams over the weekend after JD Sports withdraw from acquisition talks last week and placed the 242-year-old retailer on the verge of liquidation. Although Frasers Group finance director Chris Wootton said the current Debenhams rescue talks were on a knife-edge, should it be successful it could save up to 12,000 retail jobs.
JD Sports was understood to have been in pole position in a sale process initiated by Debenhams’ administrators following its insolvency announcement in April, its withdrawal on Tuesday was partly linked to the administration of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which is the biggest operator of concessions in Debenhams stores.
Frasers Group – which owns Sports Direct, Jack Wills, Evans Cycles and rival department store chain House of Fraser – is now looking to buy Debenhams in a deal worth around £200 million, The Sunday Times reported. The last-minute rescue deal could also see Frasers Group operate Debenhams’ 124 stores under 12-month licences.
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