Debenhams just collapsed into administration after rejecting a final rescue offer

Future of Kent stores remains unclear

Once the country's biggest department store chain, Debenhams had been hit by a sharp slowdown in sales, high rents and ballooning debt, plus an acrimonious power struggle with billionaire Ashley's Sports Direct.

British department store chain Debenhams has entered into a pre-pack administration, and immediately been taken over by its lenders. They sold the group to its creditors including British banks and USA hedge funds.

The change of ownership means that shareholders such as Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, who holds a 30% stake, will see their investments wiped out.

FTI Consulting has been appointed to carry out the process.

"Those close to the retailer's plans emphasising this morning that all stores would be expected to be open through Christmas 2019." whereas the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire takes a different view, stating "Debenhams on brink of collapse".

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Debenhams department store in Limerick will continue to trade as normal for now, despite its United Kingdom parent group going into administration this Tuesday.

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

In a statement issued to the market on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Ashley said the administration should be reversed and Sports Direct given access to information to "save the business for all stakeholders".

The company would also have had to install Mr Ashley as chief executive.

Mr Ashley's attempts to take control of Debenhams had become increasingly desperate, and over the weekend the businessman demanded the board be investigated, two members to undergo lie detector tests and trading in its shares to be suspended.

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Lenders to Debenhams said the final proposal, on the terms set out, was "not sufficient".

'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.

The offer involved underwriting a rights issue which would see existing investors buying newly issued shares and is an advance on an £150 million plan tabled on Monday, which was rejected.

Suppliers, workers, pension holders and customers will also not be affected.

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