Debenhams has rejected a £40m loan offered by Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley to help the struggling department store.
In a letter to Debenhams chief executive Sergio Bucher published by The Telegraph, Ashley said he was offering the business “a very public statement of support at a critical time for the Debenhams business”.
He added that the Debenhams board “doesn’t really seem to appreciate the position that Debenhams is currently in and their responsibility to shareholders”.
Sports Direct has a 29% stake in Debenhams.
Debenhams said: “We welcome Sports Direct’s proposal as a clear demonstration of their willingness to support the company. However, as the offer came with conditions that could affect the interests of other stakeholders, while the board does not think it could accept the proposal, as presented, it has invited Sports Direct to engage as part of our broader refinancing process.”
Ashley said November was the “worst November for retailers in living memory” and pointed to speculation that Debenhams has “zero chance of survival.”
He added: “If I’m sounding extremely frustrated – well, I am. We’ve seen this before, with Blacks and House of Fraser. They didn’t want any help either. We don’t want to see Debenhams fail.
“It’s not in our interest to see it fail, but without something changing rapidly all of the shareholders risk getting wiped out.”