THERE are major fears for the future of Debenhams in Redditch after the firm went into administration this morning.

The announcement was made after the owners of the department store rejected a new offer from Sports Direct in the early hours of this morning, according to national media reports.

The firm's shares were suspended before this morning's trading - at its own request - and it is now gone into pre-pack administration, where shops continue trading but the business would come under the control of its lenders.

Reportedly the lenders are made up of High Street banks and US hedge funds.

The dramatic developments happened the firm rejected a £150m offer from Mike Ashley's company and a second offer, considered overnight, was turned down reportedly because Mr Ashley wanted to be chief executive.

Debenhams swung to a £491.5 million loss in the year to September 1, the biggest in its history. The loss compares with a £59 million profit in 2017.

Debenhams said in a statement: “The board confirms that it received a revised, highly-conditional, proposal from Sports Direct in the early hours of 9 April, which indicated a willingness of Sports Direct to underwrite an equity issue of £200 million.

“The company’s lenders have confirmed to the company that the proposal, on the terms set out, was not sufficient to justify an extension to the 8 April deadline.

“The company anticipates making a further announcement during the course of the day following further discussions with its lenders.”

The firm has a store in The Kingfisher Shopping Centre.