LONDON, United Kingdom — Debenhams chief executive Sergio Bucher is stepping down after lenders took control of the troubled retailer earlier this month.
Chairman Terry Duddy will take over in an executive role on an interim basis as the company seeks a successor to Bucher, who plans to leave this week. Debenhams said the moves will allow new leadership to carry through the restructuring and turnaround of the business.
Speculation about Bucher’s future has swirled since the company fell into the hands of lenders after a struggle with its biggest shareholder, Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International. The billionaire in January led a coup that ousted Bucher from the board, but the department-store chain rebuffed repeated approaches from him since then.
Debenhams entered into a so-called prepackaged administration and was delisted from the London Stock Exchange last week, with the holdings of Sports Direct and other equity investors wiped out.
“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,” Bucher said in a statement.
Under Bucher, Debenhams has moved to refresh some of its stores with new features such as cafes, but his investments in e-commerce came too late to keep the company competitive during a rapid shift to online shopping.
By Ellen Milligan; editors: Eric Pfanner and John J. Edwards III.