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Debenhams in rescue talks with Fraser Group

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Fraser Group has confirmed that it is in with Debenhams for a potential rescue deal.

After the department store fell into administration last week, Mike Ashley’s Fraser Group said that it is in negotiations to rescue the retailer that employs 12,000 people.

In a statement, the group said: “The Company confirms that it is in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams’ UK business regarding a potential rescue transaction for Debenhams’ UK operations.

“Whilst Frasers Group hopes that a rescue package can be put in place and jobs saved, time is short and the position is further complicated by the recent administration of the Arcadia Group, Debenhams’ biggest concession holder. There is no certainty that any transaction will take place, particularly if discussions cannot be concluded swiftly.”

Mike Ashley previously built up a 29% stake in the department store, which was wiped when the group fell into administration last year. Ashley also owns House of Fraser, which he bought when the group collapsed.

Last week, JD Sports was in talks to rescue Debenhams. However, the group pulled out. JD Sports said in a statement: “JD Sports Fashion, the leading retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands, confirms that discussions with the administrators of Debenhams regarding a potential acquisition of the UK business have now been terminated.”

Debenhams collapsed soon after Arcadia fell into administration.

Mr Grabiner, the Arcadia chief executive, said: “This is an incredibly sad day for all of our colleagues as well as our suppliers and our many other stakeholders. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic including the forced closure of our stores for prolonged periods has severely impacted on trading across all of our brands.

“Throughout this immensely challenging time, our priority has been to protect jobs and preserve the financial stability of the group in the hope that we could ride out the pandemic and come out fighting on the other side.

“Ultimately, however, in the face of the most difficult trading conditions we have ever experienced, the obstacles we encountered were far too severe,” he added.

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