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Debenhams launches closing down sale with no sign of business buyer

Tom Shearsmith
16 December 2020

British department store Debenhams has launched a closing down sale online and in-store, having publicly received no offers from interested buyers since going into liquidation on 1 December 2020.

Debenhams is offering up to 50% off many items online, with some items priced at 70% off. The deals continues in its stores, marked "when it's gone, it's gone".

Debenhams looked as though it might disappear from the high street after 242 years when JD Sports pulled out of a potential deal to buy the business out of administration. The company then announced it was commencing liquidation proceedings.

Last week, Frasers finance boss Chris Wootton signalled that his company, which owns Sports Direct and Jack Wills, might be interested in a deal for Debenhams.

“We hope to be able to save as many jobs as possible,” he told the Sunday Times. “However, we have found that Debenhams has been overly reliant on Arcadia for many years, and, with the administration of Arcadia last week, as well as no end in sight to the outdated business rates regime which unduly punishes the likes of Debenhams, it may be a bridge too far.”

Frasers chief Mike Ashley has been pursuing Debenhams for some time. He initially bought a stake in the business in 2014 and began a dogged campaign at the end of 2018 and the start of 2019 to take control of the business.

He again expressed his interest earlier this year after Debenhams was placed into administration again, but claimed to have been "frozen out" of the sale process by its advisers.

The closing down sale means that its 124 UK stores and the online store will continue to trade for the present, although it has been reported that the initial part of the liquidation process should be complete by the end of this month.

The business will close if no offers are made, with the department store's 12,000 staff made redundant. Shoppers are being urged to spend gift cards and return unwanted goods as soon as possible.

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