The 242-year-old firm has launched a huge stock clearance sale, but many people complained about being placed in virtual queues with thousands of other shoppers.
“We have been seeing unprecedented levels of visits,” a spokesperson said.
In an attempt to meet demand, Debenhams was forced to implement a queuing system for its website, which promised customers: ‘Sorry for the wait, we are currently using a virtual queue due to exceptional demand. We will get you onto the site as soon as possible’.
On social media, many people complained they had hundreds of thousands of customers ahead of them in the queue for the website.
After rescue talks with JD Sports collapsed, Debenhams confirmed plans on Tuesday to start winding down its operations “while continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business”.
It means all 12,000 employees are likely to lose their jobs when the 242-year-old department store chain’s 124 shops cease trading.
It is understood staff were told on Tuesday morning.
JD Sports was the last remaining bidder for Debenhams, which has been in administration since April.
The news Debenhams was to start a liquidation process came just hours after Topshop owner Arcadia fell into administration, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.
Debenhams said on Tuesday it will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks.
Geoff Rowley, of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams, said: “All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams.
“However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached.
“The decision to move forward with a closure programme has been carefully assessed and, while we remain hopeful that alternative proposals for the business may yet be received, we deeply regret that circumstances force us to commence this course of action.
“We are very grateful for the efforts of the management team and staff who have worked so hard throughout the most difficult of circumstances to keep the business trading.”
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