DEBENHAMS in Bournemouth is continuing to trade today after the department store chain was placed into administration.

Shops are staying open as normal and administrators say they will “protect as many stores and jobs as possible”, but a wider restructuring is expected to lead to 50 around closures.

Lenders took control of the company after it administrators were appointed, wiping out the stake held by Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley and those of all other shareholders.

Terry Duddy, chairman of administrator FTI Consulting, said: “It is disappointing to reach a conclusion that will result in no value for our equity holders.

“However, this transaction will allow Debenhams to continue trading as normal; access the funding we need; and proceed with executing our turnaround plans, whilst deleveraging the group’s balance sheet.

“We remain focused on protecting as many stores and jobs as possible, consistent with establishing a sustainable store portfolio in line with our previous guidance.”

Debenhams’ Bournemouth store is one of the town’s biggest shops. It opened as Bobby & Co in 1915.

Tony Brown, chief executive of rival Beales, said: “They will probably come to an arrangement with landlords on which stores they want, but it allows them the flexibility to ditch stores.

“I think there’s a question mark over the Bournemouth Debenhams anyway, as there is with House of Fraser. I don’t think we’ll benefit from it because anything that dilutes choice in the town centre is bad. I won’t be rubbing my hands with glee if they leave Bournemouth.

“I think they’ve got a fair bit of restructuring to do as far as their landlords are concerned but it’s no secret it’s a difficult time in the high street.”

Jeff Bray, senior lecturer in retail marketing at Bournemouth University, said Debenhams had suffered a lack of investment for around 15 years.

“The store estate has fallen behind. They’re not offering the kind of experiences that are necessary to drag people off the internet and into physical stores,” he said.

“They’ve got a dated store estate that has been under-invested in and the chances of them finding the cash to invest in modernising and being able to provide those experiences are pretty slim. I don’t think there’s a particularly strong future for Debenhams, other than potentially as a much smaller physical store combined with online trading.”

He is sceptical that Bournemouth can sustain three large department stores – Debenhams, House of Fraser and Beales. The town lost its Marks & Spencer last year.

He added: “I maintain my view that three department stores in Bournemouth is challenging. I still think that House of Fraser is in a very challenging position.”