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Debenhams has gone into administration, marking the end of UK department store’s third spell as a quoted company. Its lenders took control after rejecting financial backing from Sports Direct, its biggest shareholder.

Mike Ashley, Sports Direct’s billionaire founder, called the process a “national tragedy”.

Early days


Roots can be traced back London’s West End, when William Clark opened a retail store on Wigmore Street (pictured), selling expensive fabrics and gloves


William Debenham invests in the company, which then becomes Clark & Debenham


Debenhams is incorporated following a series of retail, wholesale and manufacturing acquisitions eventually becoming one of the largest retailers in the UK


The department store merges with rival Marshall & Snellgrove and one year later buys Knightsbridge retailer Harvey Nichols


Debenhams lists as a public company, marking its first foray on the UK stock market

Changing hands

Shoppers in 1980 run into the store during a sales event © Getty


Acquired by the Burton Group


Spun out of Burton, which went on to become Arcadia, with a value of £1.4bn


Acquired for £1.7bn by CVC, Merrill Lynch and TPG


Refloated by the private equity trio at about the same equity value but with 10 times the debt it had in 2003

Final tussle

© Getty

Oct 2018

Massive full-year loss after heavy impairment charges; dividend scrapped

Dec 2018

Mike Ashley (pictured) reveals he offered to lend Debenhams £40m

Feb 2019

Agrees £40m additional credit line

Mar 13 2019

Mr Ashley’s Sports Direct offers Debenhams another loan of £150m

Mar 27 2019

Sports Direct said it was considering 5p-a-share bid for Debenhams

Mar 29 2019

Debenhams agrees £200m refinancing; challenges Sports Direct to respond by April 8

April 5 2019

Sports Direct offers to underwrite £150m rights issue

April 8 2019

Sports Direct makes improved offer to underwrite rights issue

April 9 2019

Control of Debenhams passes to lenders in “pre-pack” administration

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