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Gloucestershire Business News

Has Debenhams found its saviour?

A white knight could be riding to the saviour of Gloucester's Debenhams store in the shape of Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley.

Ashley, who is already a significant shareholder in Debenhams, has called for a general meeting of the chain, where he will bid to take over.

In a statement released by Sports Direct last night, Ashley - who also owns Premier League Football club Newcastle United - said he would step down from Sports Direct if the move happens.

Ashley has a 30 per cent stake in Debenhams and in the statement, he has demanded the removal of all but one of the current Debenhams board.

Earlier this week, Debenhams issued another warning to shareholders over profits, while underlining a commitment to close up to 50 of its 200 plus stores to balance the books.

The statement released by Sports Direct said that it was a "business critical period for Debenhams" and that Ashley would take charge of the company in the short term.


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It said: "Mr Ashley would carry out an executive role, and would focus on the Debenhams business, including building a strong board and management team.

"If appointed, Mr Ashley would step down from his current roles as a director and chief executive of Sports Direct.

"He would be replaced as acting chief executive by Chris Wootton, current Sports Direct's chief financial officer."

It concluded by saying that Sports Direct is reassuring its shareholders that, both Ashley and the Sports Direct management have every confidence that the acting CEO would have the necessary expertise to run the business.

Debenhams shares had risen by nearly 16 per cent after the news of Ashley's potential takeover this morning.

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