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Debenhams chair Duddy to stand down as CEO appointed

Lauretta Roberts
07 August 2019

Debenhams executive chairman and retail veteran Terry Duddy is to stand down this week as the department store's owners are set to appoint restructuring expert Stefaan Vansteenkiste as CEO.

Vansteenkiste has been acting as chief restructuring officer at Debenhams since April when he was drafted in by its investors from restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal. The consortium of the investors, called Celine, bought Debenhams out of administration in pre-pack deal and shortly after that entered into a CVA to allow a radical restructuring.


Terry Duddy

Duddy, who has run big businesses such as Homebase and Argos, had also been appointed in April to indirectly replace Debenhams' former CEO Sergio Bucher who had joined the business from Amazon Fashion in 2016. Bucher had been the architect of a Debenhams Reimagined strategy that placed experience at the heart of its stores with the introduction of services such as beauty bars and, in some cases, gyms.

After Bucher's departure Duddy said he would remain in the position of executive chairman until a suitable replacement could be found. Headhunters were said to be scouring the market for candidates but the investors decided that the retailer needed a restructuring expert, rather than a retail expert, to steer it through the crucial Christmas trading period, according to Sky News.

The news service says that the board changes could be announced as early as tomorrow.

Debenhams still needs to see of a challenge to its CVA by Combined Property Control Group (CPC), which is being supported in its appeal by Sports Direct's Mike Ashley. A court date has been set next month to hear the appeal.

Ashley, who had attempted to gain control of Debenhams himself, dropped his own company's challenge to the CVA, having dubbed the administration of Debenhams a "national scandal".

The restructuring plans put forward by Debenhams include 50 store closures and lower rents on more than 100 outlets.

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