Department Stores

Debenhams CEO expected to step down

Debenhams CEO Sergio Bucher is expected to step down in the next few days, after lenders took control of the embattled department store’s chain last week.

A source close to Bucher told the BBC: “Having stayed on and got the refinancing in place, Sergio thinks now would be the right moment to move on. The upcoming restructuring can then be led by someone offering a fresh start.”

It is speculated that Debenhams chairman Terry Duddy will take over the position.

It comes as the department store entered pre-pack administration last week, and has gone into the control of its lenders following its rejection of Sports Direct’s offer to underwrite £150m equity issuance.

The pre-pack administration will see all of the company’s shareholders – including Sports Direct which has a 30% stake – wiped out and lose their investments.

Chad Griffin, Simon Kirkhope and Andrew Johnson of FTI Consulting LLP were appointed as joint administrators while Debenhams’ shares were sold to Celine UK Newco I Limited, an entity owned by the company’s secured lenders.

Although Debenhams previously announced plans to close 50 of its stores, its 166 outlets will continue trading as normal. The company employs around 25,000 people.

At the time, Duddy said: “We remain focused on protecting as many stores and jobs as possible, consistent with establishing a sustainable store portfolio in line with our previous guidance.

“In the meantime, our customers, colleagues, pension holders, suppliers and landlords can be reassured that Debenhams will now be able to move forward on a stable footing.”

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