Frasers Group has made a last-minute rescue bid for ailing department store chain Debenhams, with owner Mike Ashley vowing to save as many jobs as possible.

In a note to the stock market this morning, Frasers Group confirmed it had entered into talks with the administrators of Debenhams and said it had “hopes that a rescue package can be put in place and jobs saved”.

However, Frasers noted that the collapse of Arcadia had complicated the process as it had been the biggest concession-holder in Debenhams stores. 

As a result, Frasers said the time to make a deal for Debenhams was limited and would not guarantee an agreement could be reached. 

“Time is short,” said the note. “There is no certainty that any transaction will take place, particularly if discussions cannot be concluded swiftly.”

Debenhams collapsed on Tuesday after a period of protracted and exclusive talks with JD Sports failed due to Arcadia slipping into administration the previous day. 

Debenhams advisors FRP said that they would begin winding down the chain into liquidation, with the loss of as many as 12,000 jobs and 127 stores. 

Debenhams has already cut some 6,500 jobs since it fell into administration in early April and, without a prospective buyer, could end up being liquidated. Hilco Capital has been waiting in the wings to wind the business down since August.

There had also been speculation of other interested parties, including The Hut Group, which was understood to have been interested in purchasing Debenhams’ website, as well as Indian giant Reliance Retail, but that has since melted away.

Last week was one of the darkest in terms of potential lost retail jobs in years, with Arcadia, Debenhams, Bonmarché and Ann Summers all either falling into liquidation, administration or launching company voluntary arrangements.