Retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has confirmed that it is in talks to acquire ailing department store chain Debenhams.

Frasers Group in a stock market statement revealed that it was in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams’ UK business for the potential acquisition of Debenhams’ UK operations.

Last week, Debenhams was set to close all 124 stores, which could leave 12,000 employees at risk of losing job after talks with potential buyers continue to fall apart.

The matter was further intricated after its biggest concession holder Arcadia Group entered into administration.

Frasers Group in a statement said: “The Company confirms that it is in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams’ UK business regarding a potential rescue transaction for Debenhams’ UK operations.

“Whilst Frasers Group hopes that a rescue package can be put in place and jobs saved, time is short and the position is further complicated by the recent administration of the Arcadia Group, Debenhams’ biggest concession holder. There is no certainty that any transaction will take place, particularly if discussions cannot be concluded swiftly.”

The Sunday Times reported Frasers Group’s interest in Debenhams over the weekend.

The company’s owner Mike Ashley had initially made an offer of around £125m but was termed as too low.

The latest negotiation, if materialises, will enable Frasers to operate all Debenhams’ stores on a 12-month license, thereby giving time to decide how many stores could be saved, Bloomberg reported citing a person familiar with the development.

Debenhams refused to comment on negotiation with Frasers Group.

Last week, UK women’s fashion retailer Bonmarché also entered administration for the second time in one year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect sales.