Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

New Debenhams chairman seeks investor consensus as shares slide again

New Debenhams chairman seeks investor consensus as shares slide again

Cheshire, formerly of DIY group Kingfisher, said: "It has been a great privilege to get to know my Debenhams colleagues over the past three years". Past year it issued three profit warnings.

The board said Sergio would stay on to carry out management's plan to reshape the business.

But while Sir Ian has also stepped down with immediate effect, Bucher is remaining in his position and will report to the board.

The discounter saw a 33% uplift in sales of its premium Deluxe range over the six weeks to December 30, with bestsellers including brioche burger buns and luxury mince pies.

The company said it had not ruled out any options, include an insolvency process that could be used to speed up a plan to close up to 50 stores over the next five years.

Sports Direct, which owns almost 30% of Debenhams shares, and Milestone Resources, controlled by the Dubai-based retail billionaire Micky Jagtiani, who owns a 7% stake, both voted against Cheshire and Bucher.

Mr Cheshire's and Mr Bucher's re-elections to the board were rejected by 56.62% and 55.85% of votes cast respectively.

Every director up for re-election received over 11% of votes against their re-election.

In a statement, Debenhams said Sir Ian has concluded it is no longer possible for him to remain as chairman given the decision.

Terry Duddy, Debenhams' senior independent director, was appointed interim chairman, and said he would meet with shareholders to understand their concerns.

Sports Direct, which is owned by British billionaire Mike Ashley, acquired another struggling department store, House of Fraser, last year, after it went into administration, for 90 million pounds ($159.6 million), and some have speculated that Ashley is interested in combining the two businesses, according to Reuters.

It bought department store chain House of Fraser out of administration for £90m past year and analysts have speculated that Ashley might want to put the two department store groups together.

The news came after the struggling department store yesterday unveiled declining sales over Christmas, but said it was still on track to deliver on profit expectations.

He said: "I recognise that individual shareholders have wished to register their dissatisfaction". I am looking forward to working with Sergio.

Mr Ashley, who founded Sports Direct, has been taking an increased interest in Debenhams.

Earlier Thursday, Debenhams announced it is in talks with lenders over its financing amid weak store footfall over the Christmas period.

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