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Debenhams confirms new CEO

Debenhams has confirmed the appointment of Stefaan Vansteenkiste as chief executive.

Vansteenkiste joined Debenhams in April 2019 as chief restructuring officer and Debenhams said he has been working closely with the executive team on a new business plan to deliver a turnaround.

Stefaan is a turnaround expert at professional services firm, Alvarez & Marsal.

Terry Duddy, chairman of Debenhams Group, will work with Stefaan to ensure an orderly handover and then step down from the board in September.

Duddy said: “The board welcomes Stefaan’s appointment as CEO. We concluded that he is the right person to take the business forward into the next phase of its recovery. Stefaan has already made a strong contribution since joining Debenhams, and has the support of our investor consortium to drive forward our turnaround plan.”

Vansteenkiste added: “The retail industry faces a challenging environment and everyone at Debenhams acknowledges that. But we have a clear plan and Debenhams has a great team of people who are committed to delivering it. I am very excited about Debenhams’ strong prospects and with a restructured balance sheet there is a robust platform from which to build a turnaround, based on Debenhams’ clear brand focus, broad customer reach and differentiated product offer.”

The appointment comes following weeks of speculation over who would take the top job at the retailer as it continues its efforts to turn around the business.

Vansteenkiste replaces former CEO Sergio Bucher, who left Debenhams in April after the retailer entered into a pre-pack administration, and chairman Terry Duddy became interim chief executive.

Duddy replaced former chairman Sir Ian Cheshire, who was voted off the Debenhams board by shareholders, including Mike Ashley, in January. 

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