Debenhams today filed a notice of intent to appoint an administrator, as its stores sit empty amid government-imposed retail closures.
The retail group says it intends to enter a ‘light touch’ administration, whereby the current management team remain in place under the stewardship and guidance of the administrators. The move aims to ensure Debenhams’ 142 UK stores can being trading once more as soon as the shut down is lifted.
Stefaan Vansteenkiste, CEO of Debenhams, says: “These are unprecedented circumstances and we have taken this step to protect our business, our employees, and other important stakeholders, so that we are in a position to resume trading from our stores when government restrictions are lifted.”
Lenders back the move, Debenhams says, and have provided the funding to begin the administration process, which will allow the business to continue with its obligations to staff and suppliers within a protective arrangement. Most staff have been furloughed and will receive their pay through the government’s 80 per cent scheme, and payments to suppliers who continue to provide goods during the administration will not be affected, Debenhams says.
“We are working with a group of highly supportive owners and lenders and anticipate that additional funding will be made available to bridge us through the current crisis period,” the chief executive adds.
“With their support and working with other key stakeholders, including landlords, pension trustees and business partners, we are striving to protect jobs and reopen as many Debenhams stores for trading as we can, as soon as this is possible.”
Debenhams continues to trade online across the UK, Ireland and Denmark, in line with government guidelines, while the lockdown continues. Customer orders, gift cards and returns are being accepted and processed normally.