Future of Romford and Ilford Debenhams stores unknown as company goes into administration

Debenhams has now revealed the full list of 22 stores it will close early next year. Picture: Nick A

Debenhams has now revealed the full list of 22 stores it will close early next year. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Department store Debenhams has this morning been placed into administration and the future of its Romford and Ilford stores is currently unknown.

Today (Tuesday, April 9) the retailer’s lenders seized control of the company, and the move is expected to trigger store closures and job losses.

As part of a wider restructuring around 50 outlets could shut via a Company Voluntary Arrangement, however at the moment the future of the stores in The Exchange, Ilford, and Market Place, Romford is unknown.

The widely-anticipated change of ownership means that shareholders such as Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, who holds a 30 per cent stake, will see their investments wiped out.

Debenhams today rejected a separate rescue bid tabled by the billionaire tycoon.

FTI Consulting has been appointed to carry out the process but the firm insisted that stores will continue to trade as normal.

Administrators have sold the group to a newly-incorporated company controlled by Debenhams’ lenders, including hedge funds thought to include Alcentra, Angelo Gordon and Silver Point Capital.

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Under new ownership, Debenhams will have access to £200 million in emergency funding.

Terry Duddy, Debenhams chairman, said: “It is disappointing to reach a conclusion that will result in no value for our equity holders.

“However, this transaction will allow Debenhams to continue trading as normal; access the funding we need; and proceed with executing our turnaround plans whilst deleveraging the group’s balance sheet.

“We remain focused on protecting as many stores and jobs as possible, consistent with establishing a sustainable store portfolio in line with our previous guidance.

“In the meantime, our customers, colleagues, pension holders, suppliers and landlords can be reassured that Debenhams will now be able to move forward on a stable footing.

“I would like to thank them all for their recent and continuing support.”

A spokesman for the Debenhams Pension Schemes said: “Debenhams Retail Limited has been transferred to a newly-incorporated company and continues to trade and operate as normal. Members can therefore be reassured that the schemes are carrying on as usual.

“The trustees have worked with our specialist advisers throughout the process of the company’s refinancing and restructuring, to ensure that members’ interests are taken into account and we have consulted closely with The Pensions Regulator and the Pension Protection Fund at every stage.

“We are in the process of writing to all members with further information and we will continue to keep them informed.”