Dec 6, 2020

Mike Ashley makes eleventh-hour play for Debenhams

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group has entered talks over a possible last-minute rescue of Debenhams, marking the billionaire's second attempt to buy the stricken UK department store chain. Mr Ashley, who was already seen as a potential buyer of certain stores in the Debenhams estate, has now resurrected attempts to buy the business, according to two people with direct knowledge of the talks. The re-emergence of Mr Ashley, who owns the rival House of Fraser department store chain, as a potential buyer of Debenhams in the wake of the JD Sports talks ending could potentially save thousands of jobs. Chris Wootton, chief financial officer at Frasers, told the Sunday Times: "We hope to be able to save as many jobs as possible." But he added that the collapse of Arcadia, whose brands such as Dorothy Perkins have a strong presence in Debenhams' stores, and concerns over business rates could make a deal "a bridge too far". Apart from Debenhams' 124 stores, which could be cherry-picked by rivals including Frasers, the chain's assets include its website, stock, house brands and the Danish business Magasin du Nord.

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