Coronavirus: Debenhams in administration for second time in year

Department store Debenhams has formally confirmed that it has entered administration – for the second time in the past year.

The move is designed to protect the business, which employs 22,000 people, from creditors at a time when stores are closed because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The company announced on Monday that it had filed a notice of intent to bring in administrators, confirming a move first reported by Sky News.

It has now appointed restructuring specialists FRP Advisory to oversee the process.

Debehams’ 142 UK stores remain closed in line with the government lockdown and the firm said it would work to “reopen and trade as many stores as possible” when restrictions are lifted.

However, it said its Irish business, which runs 11 stores with around 1,400 staff, will cease trading as part of the move.

Debenhams said it would continue to trade online in Ireland, the UK and Denmark.

The majority of its employees in the UK are currently being paid under the government’s furlough scheme.

Chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste said: “In these unprecedented circumstances the appointment of the administrators will 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.

“We anticipate that our highly supportive owners and lenders will make additional funding available to fund the administration period.

“We are desperately sorry not to be able to keep the Irish business operating but are faced with no alternative option in the current environment.

“This decision has not been taken lightly and is no way a reflection on our Irish colleagues, whose professionalism and commitment to serving our customers has never been in question.”

The 242-year-old retailer first went into administration a year ago, wiping out shareholders including Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, and is now owned by a consortium of lenders.

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