Department store Debenhams has today filed a notice to appoint administrators.
The retailer said the filing will protect Debenhams from the threat of legal action, which could push the business into liquidation.
The group is making preparations to resume trading in its stores once government restrictions amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak are lifted, and said filing a notice to appoint administrators was a necessary step in that process.
It said it would carry out a “light touch” administration whereby the existing management team will remain in place under the control and supervision of administrators.
Most of the retailer’s UK employees are now furloughed. Debenhams said payments to suppliers who continue to provide goods and services, including fashion suppliers, during the administration will remain “unaffected” and be paid to terms.
Stefaan Vansteenkiste, CEO of Debenhams, said: “These are unprecedented circumstances and we have taken this step to 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 are working with a group of highly supportive owners and lenders and anticipate that additional funding will be made available to bridge us through the current crisis period.
“With their support and working with other key stakeholders, including landlords, pension trustees and business partners, we are striving to protect jobs and reopen as many Debenhams stores for trading as we can, as soon as this is possible.”