Employee Engagement

The owners of Debenhams have said administrators have rejected all takeover bids for the struggling firm. Celine, a consortium made up of the retailer’s lenders, said the bids were “not at the level required to be taken forward” and it would retain ownership.

It said it was confident that creditors would back the turnaround plan, which includes proposals to close 50 stores. Celine took control in April after key Debenhams shareholder Sports Direct had made several offers to take it over.

Debenhams is the biggest department store chain in the UK with 166 stores. It employs about 25,000 people.

Celine’s Stefaan Vansteenkiste said the investor consortium was a “committed long-term owner” which had pumped £200m in fresh funding into Debenhams “for the financial restructuring process and to fund the company’s operating turnaround”.

The turnaround plan involves a store closure programme under a process known as a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which also allows for rents to be renegotiated at stores that remain open.

Of the stores which stay open, 39 will stick to their current rental rates for the duration of their leases. For the other stores, the company is aiming to secure rental reductions of between 25% and 50%.

Creditors, including landlords, are due to vote on the proposals later on Thursday.

Debenhams executive chairman Terry Duddy said: “I am pleased that our new owners have confirmed their commitment to Debenhams and remain supportive of our plans to restructure the business.

“We are confident that we will receive support for our CVA proposals, which make sense for all parties, and will give us the platform to deliver a turnaround.”

The investors involved in Celine are Barclays and Bank of Ireland, as well as Silver Point Capital and GoldenTree Asset Management, which specialises in high-risk, high-reward investments.

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