Sep 4, 2020
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Debenhams boss denies firm is on brink, says trading better than expected

Sep 4, 2020

The chairman of struggling department store chain Debenhams has poured cold water on the idea that the company is at some sort of cliff edge and said that trading is better than it had expected. 

Debenhams isn't close to failing, its chairman has said

Mark Gifford told the BBC in an interview that the company has more than £95 million in the bank which is more than £50 million higher than it had expected to have at this point when it went into administration. “That’s really changed the whole complexion and prospects,” he insisted.

Rumours have been swirling around the company and its survival prospects of late with stories in recent days that suggested a deadline had been placed on potential bids for the company. There were also questions over whether it would attract enough interest to avoid liquidation. And it was suggested at the time that the company needed to do a deal by the end of September.

But Gifford said that this isn't the case and because it has been able to build up a large cash pile within the company, "the administrator can work with the management team to continue to trade the business”.

That said, the retailer clearly isn't out of the woods just yet. The so-called light touch administration that it opted for during lockdown will be longer-lasting than it seemed to have thought and Gifford said the company is likely to remain in administration until early 2021. 

He also acknowledged that there are major decisions that have to be made by the lenders that now control the firm. However, he reiterated that “this business has a viable future” because of the way sales are recovering and that the decision-makers are “looking at it optimistically”.

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