CONTROL of Debenhams has fallen into the hands of its lenders as part of a pre-pack administration process.

Debenhams has 165 stores, which will continue to trade for now, although about 50 branches had already been earmarked for closure in the future. Debenhams employs about 25,000 people. As well as the planned closures, the brand has also been renegotiating rents with landlords to tackle its funding problems.

It has not yet released a list of which shops may be shut.

The department store rejected last-ditch, £200 million rescue offers from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, which has been locked in an acrimonious battle for control.

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

These include Barclays, Bank of Ireland, Silver Point and GoldenTree.

In February, it was revealed that the closure of 20 of the stores earmarked for closure could be brought forward if the retailer took out a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), a form of insolvency that can enable firms to seek rent cuts and close unwanted stores.

A pre-pack administration lets a company sell itself, or its assets, as a going concern, without affecting the operation of the business.

Administrators take over the running of the business to protect creditors and shareholders lose their investments.