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Timeline: What went wrong at Debenhams?

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As the 206-year-old department store chain enters a pre-pack administration, we look back at its high and lows since it was last taken public in 2006.  

May 2006

Debenhams’ consortium of private equity owners, who took it private in 2003, refloat the business on the London Stock Exchange. Critics express scepticism about its growth prospects, given the amount of money taken out of the business while privately owned. The initial public offering values the company at £1.7bn, at the lowest end of predictions. 

April 2007

Debenhams issues its third profit warning in five months, blaming strong competition, a difficult trading environment and the poor performance of some of its clothing ranges.

November 2007

The retailer renegotiates the terms of its £1bn debt with lenders to give itself longer to pay off the borrowings.

October 2008 

Debenhams halves its dividend and unveils plan to slash costs to reduce the £1bn debt.

January 2009

With its debt now standing at £900m, Debenhams appoints financial adviser Lazard to review its capital structure, as it seeks to reassure the market that it will not breach its banking covenants. Those concerns weigh on Debenhams’ share price, despite a relatively positive trading performance.

June 2009

Debenhams reveals plan to raise £323m through a share sale.

July 2011

The department store completes the refinancing of the £650m senior credit facility it agreed in July 2010. The maturity date for the borrowing facility is extended to October 2015.

September 2011

Michael Sharp takes over from Rob Templeman as CEO

October 2012

Debenhams outlines plans to expand aggressively in the UK and internationally after its pre-tax profit rises 4.2% to £158.3m in the year to 1 September 2012.

June 2013

The Debenhams flagship on Oxford Street is given a £25m facelift. 

January 2014

Sports Direct acquires a 4.6% stake in Debenhams, and then quickly swaps it for a put option on 6.6%. 

October 2014

Sport direct increases its stake in Debenhams to 11.2%. 

December 2014

Debenhams continues with plans to expand internationally, and opens its first store in Abu Dhabi.  

October 2015

After a period of poor trading, a string of profit warnings and pressure from institutional investors, it is announced that Sharp will step down as CEO once a successor is appointed. 

May 2016

Debenhams appoints Sergio Butcher, vice-president of Amazon’s European fashion business, as its new CEO.

August 2017

Sports Direct ups its stake in Debenhams to 21%. 

October 2017

Debenhams reveals that its pre-tax profit plummeted 44% to £59m in year to 2 September 2017. 

September 2018

The retailer asks for help from KPMG to explore restructuring options as its profits continue to fall. 

October 2018 

It announces plans to shut up to 50 stores, and a leading provider cuts its credit insurance.

January 2019

Chairman Sir Ian Cheshire steps down from his role after Sports Direct and another major shareholder vote against his re-election to the board.

February 2019

Reports emerge that Debenhams is moving closer to a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The business secures a £40m cash injection after extending its credit facilities with lenders.

March 2019

Debenhams warns it will not meet its profit forecast for the full year, following increased financing costs and continuing “trade headwinds”. Later in the month it secures a £200m refinancing deal with its existing lenders. Sports Direct moots a £61m cash offer for the business. 

8 April 2019

Sports Direct tables an offer of £150m, and then increases its bid to £200m. Its proposal is conditional on the appointment of Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley as CEO of Debenhams. The department store’s board rejects both offers. 

9 April 2019 

Debenhams enters a pre-pack administration, and its lenders take control. 



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