Debenhams chairman To Mike Ashley: Make A Bid For The Chain Amid Loan Dispute

Photo by Martin Pettitt

The chairman of Debenhams has informed Mike Ashley, the owner of Sports Direct, to make a bid for the entire department store chain if he is serious about taking control of the firm.

Today, Sir Ian Cheshire issued an ultimatum to the tycoon. He holds a 30 percent stake in the struggling department store, amid a bitter dispute with regards to how they are running the business.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Cheshire stated: “If he comes through the front door with an offer that we can recommend, we are not ignoring him,”

He added: “We’re a public company. If you want to make an offer for the other 70 per cent you don’t own, then you’re free at any time.”

The remarks come after Ashley was hit out at the Debenhams board for rejecting his offer of a £40 million loan.

In a letter that was sent to Sergio Bucher, the chief executive of the company, Ashley slammed the board members of the chain for not agreeing to his proposal of the interest-free loan in exchange for a greater stake in the company.

The offer was widely interpreted as an effort by Ashley to take control of the business.

However, Cheshire hit back at the retail billionaire. He stated that the company was happy to consider an offer for a full takeover.

He added: “We are not Little Englanders that have to defend our borders,” he said.

He added: “This is a grown-up bunch of people doing the right thing for the broader shareholders and stakeholders, including our 25,000 staff.”

Recently, Debenhams reported a loss amounting to £491.5 million in its annual report. It is considered as the retailer struggles under tough high street conditions. IT

Ashley, Sports Direct Group and the House of Fraser, has called on politicians to offer a helping hand to brick-and-mortar retailers.

Ashley could not be reached for comment.