It wouldn't be a week of news from the NTI newsroom if there wasn't at least two stories about that great dinosaur, Debenhams, staring at the sky and watching the giant meteor as it gets ever nearer and, following the piece about possible buyers having until 5.00pm on Tuesday to get their bids in to buy the retail chain, there is one today about its chair, Mark Gifford, saying (no, really) there is no need to secure a deal for the company before the end of September as some media reports have suggested. We are thinking that no bidders came up with a wadge of cash and begged Administrators to take it, so Mr Gifford has decided to take another tack.
He was telling the BBC about this, who placed their cameras strategically so we who were glued to the screen couldn't see the doctors in white coats surrounding him and the lower half of his straight-jacket. He said: "We are sitting with over £95 million in the bank, more than £50 million higher than we expected to have when we went into Administration. That's really changed the whole complexion and prospects." In the next studio Billy (Get A Grip) was being interviewed about the £32,000 balance on his Visa card and was quoted as saying: "I have just found a pound coin down the side of my sofa which has really changed the whole complexion and prospects."
You will hardly need reminding that Debenhams is enjoying its second Administration in 18 months, have just made 2,500 of their staff redundant and Liquidators are tying their shoe laces in final preparations to walk through the door and say, "what took us so long?". Mr Gifford thinks Debenhams will stay in Administration until early next year before its future is sealed. The real question now is whether its current owners will stick with the business or throw in the towel. Towels have already been chucked in all directions in places such as Milton Keynes, Gateshead and Watford where Debenhams have been shedding stores quicker than Tracee lost her fake tan under a pressure washer late in the summer.
Mr Gifford went on: "We're in our 13th week of trading (since lockdown) and it's very early days. There's no pressure for them to reach a conclusion given where we are. But we've got their support." However, the owners may not want to put their hands in their pockets and the chair and his team will have to persuade them that Debenhams finances will be strong enough to survive.
We hate to spoil the surprise. They won't and they won't.