Debenhams has confirmed it has entered administration, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

The struggling department store chain has formally appointed FRP Advisory to oversee the process, after announcing an intention to appoint administrators on Monday.

Debenhams’ Irish business, which employs 1,400 staff, will cease trading but the company said it was working to reopen as many stores as possible in the UK when government restrictions are eased.

All 142 Debenhams stores are currently shut, in line with coronavirus lockdown rules. Most of Debenhams’ 22,000 employees are being paid under the government’s furlough scheme which covers up to 80 per cent of wages for three months.

The company’s website will remain open for customers in Ireland, the UK and Denmark.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, chief executive officer of Debenhams, said: “In these unprecedented circumstances the appointment of the administrators will protect our business, our employees, and other important stakeholders, so that we are in a position to resume trading from our stores when government restrictions are lifted.

“We anticipate that our highly supportive owners and lenders will make additional funding available [during] the administration period.

“We are desperately sorry not to be able to keep the Irish business operating but are faced with no alternative option in the current environment.

“This decision has not been taken lightly and is no way a reflection on our Irish colleagues, whose professionalism and commitment to serving our customers has never been in question.”

Debenhams had been in trouble before the current crisis, which has seen all but essential shops close their doors. A year ago, the chain went through a restructuring process known as a pre-pack administration, which saw lenders take control and shareholders, including Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, wiped out.

The 242-year-old company is already in the process of closing around 50 stores as it seeks to slash costs and focus on profitable sites. Of those, 22 have shut so far.

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