Debenhams has been bought for a reported £55m by online retailer Boohoo.
The department store will be relaunched as an online-only operation from next year.
Bosses said the deal, worth £55m, will not include saving Debenhams stores. These will instead close for good as part of a structured winding down of the business.
The deal will see Debenhams products sold by Boohoo from early next year, allowing enough time for liquidators to continue closing the physical sites once they are allowed to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Debenhams’ own fashion brands will also be absorbed into Boohoo’s current portfolio and sold via the Debenhams website.
But with stores closing across the 242-year-old brand – including sites in Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage, Hertfordshire – it’s unlikely many of the remaining 12,000 jobs are likely to be saved as result of this deal.
Executive chairman Mahmud Kamani said: “This is a transformational deal for the Group, which allows us to capture the fantastic opportunity as eCommerce continues to grow.
“Our ambition is to create the UK’s largest marketplace. Our acquisition of the Debenhams brand is strategically significant as it represents a huge step which accelerates our ambition to be a leader, not just in fashion eCommerce, but in new categories including beauty, sport and homeware.”
Boohoo chief executive John Lyttle added: “The acquisition of the Debenhams brand is an important development for the group, as we seek to capture incremental growth opportunities arising from the accelerating shift to online retail.”