Reliance Retail quits race for Debenhams

Debehams Bradford
A Debenhams store in Bradford, UK.

Indian conglomerate Reliance Retail has reportedly dropped plans to bid for embattled British department store Debenhams. 

The Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance had expressed interest in purchasing the business last month and was one of a “small number” of prospective buyers who had come forward as Debenhams sought to find a white knight investor to help it exit administration. 

Retail Week, quoting inside sources, has reported that Reliance would not now participate in a planned auction. Sources suggest a private-equity investor will end up the most likely successful bidder. 

Debenhams chairman Mark Gifford claimed last month that despite rumours to the contrary in business media, the firm is not on the brink of collapse and is in no rush to finalise an acquisition deal. Furthermore, its sales had improved following the end of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. 

Debenhams, which has 124 stores in the UK and 45 abroad, is likely to remain under administration until early next year.

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