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Debenhams appoints headhunter in search for next CEO

Lauretta Roberts
11 March 2020

Debenhams is reported to have appointed a headhunter to search for a CEO to take over from Stefaan Vansteenkiste, the restructuring expert who was appointed last summer in what was widely assumed to be a caretaker role.

According to Sky News, the retailer has appointed headhunter Spencer Stuart to find a seasoned retail expert to take the helm. The news breaks as the company today saw off a final legal challenge to its CVA, which was brought by a Salford-based landlord backed by retail tycoon and former Debenhams shareholder Mike Ashley.

The conclusion of the legal process means that Debenhams is now free to pursue its financial restructuring without hindrance, which is likely to result in at least £100m of its £600m-plus debt pile swapped for equity.

Vansteenkiste, a managing director at professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal who was appointed CEO at Debenhams in August, said the result was "great news for Debenhams".

The department store chain, which was bought by a consortium of its investors out of administration last year, has also been undertaking a store closure programme, with 22 stores closed already. A similar number of closures are expected next year.

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