Debenhams is to go into liquidation but will remain open for now as buyers are sought for all or parts of the business.
Debenhams is to be wound down following JD Sports pulling out of talks on a rescue takeover, placing 12,000 jobs at risk in a horror week for UK retail.
The decision has been taken after a sale process, initiated by administrators after the collapse of the troubled 242-year old department store in April, was officially concluded.
It comes after 13,000 roles were placed at risk through the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s Topshop empire.
Debenhams says that it will continue to trade, for now, to clear stock as administrators seek a new buyer for all or parts of the British business.
It is currently “too early to say” if another nationwide COVID-19 lockdown will need to occur after Christmas, according to a senior cabinet minister. George Eustice has said that “you can’t rule anything out” when he was asked about further “stay at home” measures.
Its statement read: “The sale process has not resulted in a deliverable proposal.
“Given the current trading environment and the likely prolonged effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for a restructured operation is highly uncertain.”
“The administrators have therefore regretfully concluded that they should commence a wind-down of Debenhams UK, whilst continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business.”
Sir Ian Cheshire, who was ousted as chairman of Debenhams during a tussle with Mr Ashley in January last year, said that he was sure stores would trade through the Christmas season and it was a “sad day” for the company.
“The whole challenge of Debenhams has been, from the time I was there, is there’s a fantastic business inside it – probably 70 stores and a very good website which I’m sure someone will be buying because I don’t think all these jobs are going – but you can’t have the other… stores with long leases when you can’t make it work and you can’t invest in them.,” he said.
This comes after Doctors, scientists and the hospitality industry all say that Boris Johnson’s plans for a Christmas bubble is a mistake; for five days between the dates of the 23rd and the 27th of December, people throughout the UK will be able to mix with other families in a Christmas bubble.
“The whole trick is how do you get a great business out of the existing business and, unfortunately, it looks like it’s taking liquidation to get to that end point.”
The union movement argued that the announcements of the past 24 hours proved the need for more Treasury support.