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One of the largest department store chains in the UK, Debenhams is a leading international, multi-channel brand with a proud British heritage. The business has 240 department store destinations and is online in more than 90 countries.

It traces its history back to 1778 when William Clark established a drapers store at 44 Wigmore Street, London, selling expensive fabrics, bonnets, gloves and parasols. In 1813 William Debenham invested in the firm which then became Clark & Debenham. Clement Freebody invested in the firm in 1851 it was renamed Debenham & Freebody and Debenhams Ltd was established in 1905.

The business merged with Marshall & Snellgrove in 1919 and in 1920 it acquired Harvey Nichols. In 1927 the Debenham family ended their association with the business and it floated in 1928. By 1950 it had become the biggest department store in the UK.

Debenhams was part of the Burton Group from 1985 to 1988 and in 1993 it pioneered the designer/high street collaboration movement with the introduction of Designers at Debenhams.

Following a demerger from Burton it listed again in 2003 before being bought by Baroness Retail Ltd before returning to the Stock Market again in 2006.

Recent history has been tumultuous. In 2014 a certain Mike Ashley of Sports Direct began building a stake in the business, which was struggling. In 2015 then CEO Michael Sharp announced his departure to be replaced in 2016 by Sergio Bucher, formerly of Amazon. Bucher had been attempting to breathe new life in to the retailer with an experience and services first approach to retail with the introduction of blow dry bars and even gyms, along with a brand refresh.

However a raft of profits warnings followed, including an announcement of a planned 50 store closures, while Ashley built his stake to nearly 30%. Things came to a head in the early part of 2019 when after several attempts to install himself as CEO – and an offer of a loan, an offer to buy its Danish arm Magasin du Nord and the offer of a £61.4m cash bid, a proposed £150m rescue package followed by the offer of a £200m rescue package – Ashley was seen off as the group agreed agreed a £200m refinance deal with its bondholders that wiped out all of its shareholders

Company Information
Annual Sales:

£2.335 billion

Segments / Shopping Categories:

womenswear; menswear; footwear; accessories

Company Size (No. of Employees): 7,895
Parent Company/Key Investors:

Debenhams Plc

UK Standalone Stores: 165
International Stores & Stockists: 58
Total Global Stores & Stockists: 223
Key Concessions:

Phase Eight; Dorothy Perkins; Warehouse; QUIZ

Group Companies:

Debenhams; Magasin du Nord

Key Brands Stocked:

Jasper Conran; Hammond & Co.; Richard Quinn; Principles

Number of Countries Shipped To: 66
Key Countries Shipped To:

UK; France; Germany; China; Japan; Poland; Norway; Finland

Contact Information
Head Office Address:
334-348 Oxford Street,, London W1C 1JG
Head Office Telephone: 01823 337979, option 2
Head Office Contacts:

Top Floor,
334-348 Oxford Street,
London, W1C 1JG

PR Company:

Designers at Debenhams handled by Liz Matthews PR.

Jordan Wallace - Managing Director
020 7253 1639

Joanna Rose - Personal Assistant to Liz Matthews
020 7253 1639

Key Locations:

UK; Ireland; Denmark

Key Executives

Terry Duddy

Chief Executive: Sergio Bucher stood down on 17 April 2019 and a replacement is being sought
Managing Director: Steven Cook - Managing Director of Fashion & Home; Richard Cristofoli - Managing Director of Beauty, Beauty Services & Marketing
Merchandising Director: Suzanne Brown
Buying Director: Delia Phillips
Head of Buying: Shani Delarg
Design Director: Mark Stevens (Director of Creative)
Retail Director: Susan Reid (Regional Director)
Digital Director: Charlotte Burrows
Marketing Director: Jane Exon
Chief Marketing Officer: Abigail Comber
HR Director: Sally Greenwood
Chief Financial Officer: Mike Hazell

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