JD Sports ‘in exclusive talks’ over Debenhams rescue deal


Bury-based JD Sports is reported to be in exclusive talks to buy struggling high street stores chain Debenhams.

A deal could potentially save thousands of jobs at the stores group.

The business entered a ‘light touch’ administration in April this year, following a previous administration process a year earlier.

Debenhams has already shed around 6,500 jobs since the Government imposed lockdown measures in March when the coronavirus pandemic started to take its toll.

It closed 20 stores after the original lockdown was lifted, and was trading from 124 stores, employing 12,000 staff.

However, JD Sports is believed to have entered into exclusive negotiations with advisers and administrators to buy the group, which is believed to be quoting a £300m asking price.

Retailer Mike Ashley, who owns the Sports Direct brand, is understood to have had a £125m bid rejected recently.

He tried to buy Debenhams at the time of its original administration last year, but was again rejected by the administrators.

His original £150m shareholding in the chain was wiped out as a result of the administration.

As part of a restructuring drive, Debenhams has managed to renegotiate its lease terms with many landlords, making it a more attractive proposition for potential suitors.

Likely suitors were asked to register their interest at the start of September, and it was reported that if no deal had been concluded by the end of the month, the chain could be looking at liquidation.