Debenhams executive chairman Terry Duddy has told staff that speculation about an administration is “misplaced” and that attempts involving Sports Direct to derail a turnaround will not divert its strategy.

Duddy emailed Debenhams’ employees last night in anticipation of results from Sports Direct, owner of rival department store business House of Fraser, this morning - although the results have yet to materialise and Sports Direct has become embroiled in a reporting fiasco.

Sports Direct is funding an attempt to challenge Debenhams’ recent CVA while the scale of likely losses at House of Fraser is expected to once again raise questions over the future of the department store model.

However in a day of farce Sports Direct failed to publish its results when the markets closed. The retailer’s results had already been delayed from the previous week as the impact of House of Fraser and a review of auditing was assessed, and as the day wore on the retailer repeatedly pushed back publication.

In his email, seen by Retail Week, Duddy said: “We expected this would be a disruptive period and that our competitors would try to make life difficult for us.

“The spotlight will be on House of Fraser and ourselves as Sports Direct announces its financial results tomorrow. I want to reassure you that we have a plan, which we are implementing and we will share with you shortly, we have access to financing from a supportive lending group and we have lots of exciting developments coming this autumn.

“We can’t rely on any help from the wider retail environment but we can all keep our focus on delivering the best shopping experience for our customers.”

Duddy also struck a confident tone on the ultimate outcome of the legal attempt to challenge the CVA, which is being brought by Combined Property Control Group (CPC).

He said: “The next court hearing is likely to be in early September. We are confident that we will succeed in dismissing the challenge, but in the unlikely event it is upheld in September, we will appeal that decision. So our restructuring activity will continue as planned.

“Our investor consortium of lenders remain supportive, so any press speculation about risk of administration is misplaced.”