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Debenhams has launched a closing down sale in stores and online, with up to 70% off items as it prepares to permanently close its doors.

The 242-year-old retailer, which went into liquidation on December 1, has launched its final ever clearance, as administrators look to shift stock before the business disappears for good.

JD Sports, which was tipped to save the chain, pulled out of rescue talks a fortnight ago after news of Arcadia’s collapse broke.

The retail empire, which is owned by Sir Philip Green, is worth £75million a year to Debenhams.

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley is now the only interested party, although an offer is yet to be made.

Debenhams, which is known for its Blue Cross sales, had already launched a 70% off “fire sale” earlier this month.

But now the event has been rebranded as a “closing down” sale – with some items reduced to up to 80% off.

The sale is available both in store and online, with Debenhams’ physical shops having reopened in England on December 2.

Its collapse comes after sales in the six months to October plunged to £323million versus billions in Debenhams’ heyday.

Debenhams has already cut 6,500 jobs since May, but it still has around 12,000 employees.

“Debenhams will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks,” a statement previously said.

Shoppers are being urged to spend gift cards and return any unwanted goods with the chain likely to be liquidated by the end of 2020.

Hilco, which is managing the liquidation, said that “UK operations will close” if no new offers come forward.

What’s included in the sale?
Most departments are included in the closing down clearance – with Christmas gifts, toys, winter coats and accessories all included.

It also includes concessions, with brands such as Dorothy Perkins, Dune, Carvella and Converse up to 50% off.

Customers can also get an extra 20% off beauty and fragrance, with Marc Jacobs – ‘Dot’ now £29.50.

But bear in mind if you’re shopping for Christmas gifts, you may not be able to return any unwanted items in the New Year.

The rise and fall of Debenhams

Debenhams first began as a draper business at 44 Wigmore Street in London in 1778.

In 1905, it was rebranded to Debenhams Limited and the company started buying existing department stores across the country, including Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge in 1920.

In 1928, it was listed on the London stock exchange for the first time and by 1950, Debenhams became the largest department store group in the UK. At the time it owned 84 companies and 110 stores.

However, in recent years, the chain has taken a hammering in the face of online shopping.

Debenhams announced its largest ever pre-tax loss of £491million in 2018 and the closure of up to 50 stores putting 4,000 jobs at risk.

The company fell into the hands of its lenders, a group of banks and hedge funds led by US firm Silver Point Capital earlier this year, and in April 2020 it went on the market.

The deal with JD Sports collapsed on December 1.

Geoff Rowley, of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams, said: “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams.

“However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.

“The decision to move forward with a closure programme has been carefully assessed and, while we remain hopeful that alternative proposals for the business may yet be received, we deeply regret that circumstances force us to commence this course of action.

“We are very grateful for the efforts of the management team and staff who have worked so hard throughout the most difficult of circumstances to keep the business trading.”

In a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange, the company said: “JD Sports Fashion, the leading retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands, confirms that discussions with the administrators of Debenhams regarding a potential acquisition of the UK business have now been terminated.”

Debenhams and Arcadia follow rivals including Laura Ashley, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group and Oasis Warehouse who have all slid into insolvency since March.