Gifts Today magazine

New finance chief for Debenhams

British department store group Debenhams has announced its new finance chief as Rachel Osborne who has previously worked for John Lewis, Kingfisher and Domino's Pizza

British department store group Debenhams, which has issued three profit warnings this year, has reported recruiting a former chief financial officer of Domino's Pizza to be its new finance chief.

According to Reuters, Debenhams said Rachel Osborne, who has also worked for department store rival John Lewis and home improvement retailer Kingfisher, would join the company on September 17.

Matt Smith, the current CFO, informed the board of his intention to leave Debenhams in April to take up the same role at rival Selfridges. He will leave the group at the end of August.

The group is in the second year of a turnaround plan under Chief Executive Sergio Bucher focused on closing up to 10 stores, downsizing 30 others, cutting promotions and improving online service.

Progress has, however, been hampered by changing shopping habits, a squeeze on UK consumers' budgets, a shift in spending away from fashion towards holidays and entertainment, as well as intense online competition.

Debenhams is also cutting capital expenditure and has said it may sell non-core assets, including its Danish chain Magasin du Nord.

Earlier this month rival House of Fraser collapsed into administration and was immediately purchased by Mike Ashley's Sports Direct. Sports Direct is Debenhams' biggest shareholder with a 29.7 per cent holding and analysts have speculated Ashley may try to engineer a combination with House of Fraser.

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