Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has claimed Debenhams is on the brink of collapse as he urged the struggling retailer to accept his offer of a £40 million loan to avoid a Christmas disaster.
Shares in Debenhams dropped more than 3% on Wednesday after a letter from Mr Ashley to the retailer's boss Sergio Bucher emerged in which he claimed speculation points towards the company having "zero chance of survival."
In the letter, first seen by The Daily Telegraph, Mr Ashley goes on to urge MrBucher to accept a £40 million interest-free loan from Sports Direct, which is its largest shareholder.
He also warned that Debenhams faces collapse without urgent action.
In the letter Mr Ashley said:
If I'm sounding extremely frustrated - well I am. We've seen thisbefore, with Blacks and HoF. They didn't want any help either. We don't want to see Debenhams fail. It's not in our interest to see it fail, but without something changing rapidly all of the shareholders risk getting wiped out, never mind diluted."
Debenhams declined to comment.
The correspondence emerged as Mr Ashley told investors that trading in November this year was the worst on record and said retailers are likely to be pushed over the edge. "It will literally smash them to pieces," he said.
Figures released earlier this week showed footfall to high streets and shopping centres suffered the worst November decline since the recession.