The future of Debenhams’ stores, including the one in Falkirk, is in doubt after the retailer was placed into administration and its lenders seizing control of the company.
FTI Consulting has been appointed to carry out the process but the firm insisted that stores will continue to trade as normal.
Debenhams has more than 15 Scottish stores in towns and cities including Falkirk, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Dunfermline and East Kilbride.
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.
Under new ownership, Debenhams will have access to £200 million in emergency funding.
The move is expected to trigger store closures and job losses as part of a wider restructuring that will see around 50 outlets shut via a company voluntary arrangement.
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 had yesterday rejected a separate rescue bid tabled by the billionaire tycoon.
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.”
The shop workers union Usdaw said it was “more devastating news for staff who were already living under the uncertainty of possible store closures since last year”.
National Officer Dave Gill said: “Once again, we urge the company to engage with Usdaw the trade union for all Debenhams staff. It’s crucial that the staff and their voice should be heard. We will continue to provide our members with the support and advice they need at this very difficult time.”
“Usdaw’s Save Our Shops campaign wants the Government to take urgent action to address the challenges facing retail. Three million people are employed directly in the retail sector and another 1.5 million jobs rely on the success of shops. In recent years, hundreds and thousands of jobs have been lost in retail, with large and small retailers alike closing their doors. If this was any other industry the Government would be stepping in to take some action.”