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Debenhams confirms appointment of new chairman

Tom Bottomley
25 October 2019

Debenhams has today confirmed the appointment of former House of Fraser finance chief Mike Gifford as its new chairman, following the reported speculation earlier this week.

Debenhams, which is seeking to close stores after Christmas and seek rent reductions to return to profitability, said Gifford would bring “a wealth of experience in large scale turnarounds.”

Gifford will be director and chairman of Celine Jersey Topco Limited, part of the Debenhams group of operating companies. He is currently chairman of Radley  Group and a non-executive director of Ann Summers’ parent GGI and of No. 9 Investments (the McCarthy family investment office). He was previously CFO of Game Digital from 2015 to 2018 and CFO of House of Fraser for eight years prior to that.

Debenhams spent a brief period in administration this year before being bought by a group of its lenders, and recently it had secured a further £50m cash injection to help it win new customers in the run up to Christmas. Gifford will arrive at Debenhams just in time for the crucial Christmas trading period.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, Debenhams’ CEO, said: “We are delighted that Mark will be joining the parent board to work with our investor consortium, who have confirmed their continuing commitment through providing additional liquidity for our peak trading. Mark’s expertise and understanding of business change as well as the retail industry will be invaluable. I look forward to working with him as we deliver the turnaround of the group.”

Gifford commented: “Debenhams is strongly backed by a supportive investor group with substantial resources and has an experienced management team with a clear plan to deliver a turnaround. I am excited about the opportunity to play a part in building a successful future for one of the UK’s best-known retail businesses.”

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