DEBENHAMS has been wound up by a judge who described it as “rudderless ship”.

The action came after online rival Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand and website but said the stores would all close.

The deal marks the end of Debenhams’ Hampshire stores in Winchester, Fareham and Portsmouth.

Its Southampton branch was axed during the first lockdown of 2020.

Most of the 12,000 remaining jobs at Debenhams are set to be lost.

Hampshire's Debenhams stores to close after sale of brand to Boohoo

Judge Daniel Schaffer made a winding-up order at an online hearing in the Insolvency and Companies Court.

He described the retailer as a “rudderless ship” drifting in an “ocean of insolvency” which needed to be brought into port.

The judge said the Official Receiver now should assess the position.

Debenhams and Arcadia shops set to close

He had been asked to consider Debenhams’ position by lawyers representing a shareholder and debtors.

The judge said he was making a winding-up order of his own motion.

“The company is a rudderless ship drifting in an ocean of insolvency, unable to be rescued,” he said.

“It is time for the court to bring this ship into port, so the harbour master, here the Official Receiver, can assess the position.”

Boohoo will sell Debenhams products from early next year.

Debenhams in Southampton will not reopen after lockdown

Debenhams had already announced significant job losses and the permanent closure of six stores, including the Portsmouth branch and its flagship outlet on London’s Oxford Street.

Boohoo said the deal represents a “fantastic opportunity” to target new customers and launch into the beauty, sports and homewares market for the first time.

Debenhams went into administration in April 2020.

Lawyers representing businessman Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which owns Debenhams’ shares, had issued a winding-up petition.

A barrister representing Frasers Group had asked Judge Schaffer to consider a number of preliminary issues at Monday’s hearing.

But Judge Schaffer described Debenhams as “plainly insolvent” and said he had decided to make a winding-up order of his “own motion”.

He said Debenhams was not trading and had no directors in office.

Another judge had considered Debenhams’ plight in May 2020.

Pictures of Debenhams including fashion, Saints and Santa

Judge Mark Mullen said then that Frasers Group, which owned nearly a third of Debenhams’ shares, had issued a winding-up petition.

Frasers Group was known as Sports Direct International – bosses announced a re-brand late in 2019.