Struggling department store chain Debenhams has set a deadline for potential buyers to make offers for the company today as it seeks to avoid further closures and job losses.
Investment bank Lazard, which is overseeing the sales process, has set a deadline of 5pm this afternoon, Sky News reported.
Debenhams recently entered administration for the second time in a year and has cut 6,500 jobs during the pandemic so far.
Administrator FRP Advisory is reportedly aiming to complete a sale of the business by the end of September. Alternative options could cause more job losses at the high street chain.
Last month it was reported that Debenhams had appointed Hilco Capital, which specialises in restructuring and refinancing firms, to draw up a contingency plan if a buyer cannot be found.
According to Sky News, one “illustrative scenario”, which has been circulated among potential buyers, is that half of Debenhams’ UK estate could be liquidated. Under that plan Debenhams would be left with 60 stores.
The high street chain recently launched a fight against business rates hikes, warning that it could be forced to shutter more stores and lay off thousands of workers if it is unsuccessful.
The retailer has appealed to a tribunal about a 12 per cent jump in business rates to £1.1m at its Swansea store.
Debenhams said the action represented the beginning of a “nationwide fight” for business rates to “reflect reality”.
The company warned that thousands more jobs could be lost unless it is able to agree more “realistic assessments”.
Since the UK coronavirus lockdown forced all non-essential retailers to close in March, Debenhams has reduced its store estate from 142 to 124.
Debenhams declined to comment.