Debenhams boss Sergio Bucher quits after chain goes into administration

Chief executive had faced fierce attacks from Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley who was seeking to take over department store chain

Ben Chapman@b_c_chapman
Thursday 18 April 2019 16:52
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Debenhams CEO Sergio Bucher promises his 26,000 staff he will 'try to protect as many jobs as we can' during closures

Debenhams boss Sergio Bucher is to step down this week following a pre-pack administration which saw lenders take control of the the department store chain.

Chairman Terry Duddy will take over as interim boss while Debenhams searches for a new chief executive.

Mr Bucher departs two years after joining from Amazon where he ran its European fashion business.

He had faced fierce attacks from Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley who was seeking to take over at Debenhams and described the administration as a “national scandal”.

Last week Debenhams was put into administration before being sold immediately to its lenders in what is known as a pre-pack. The process saw shareholders including Sports Direct, which owned a 30 per cent stake, wiped out.

Commenting on his departure, Mr Bucher said: “Now that our new financing facilities are in place, it is time to move on, knowing the company is in good hands with a plan that will deliver a sustainable future.

“I would like to wholeheartedly thank all of my colleagues for their efforts and dedication during such a turbulent time, as well as our suppliers, partners and of course customers for their continued support.”

Mr Bucher had already been forced off the retailer's board after Mike Ashley staged a coup which ousted him and former chairman Ian Cheshire in January.

Mr Duddy said: “Debenhams now has a clear path towards a viable and sustainable future and we have Sergio and his team to thank for that.

“With a positive, professional approach, he has acted at all times in the company's best interests, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

The company’s 165 stores will initially continue to trade but 50 have been earmarked for closure within three to five years, putting around 4,000 jobs at risk.

Debenhams has struggled to adapt to rising competition from online competitors and a general decline of high street shopping.

It has also been saddled with high costs from its large number of stores.

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