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Debenhams appoints new CEO, as Duddy paves way for exit

Published: 14 August 2019 - Fiona Garcia
Stefaan Vansteenkiste has been named as Debenhams
Stefaan Vansteenkiste has been named as Debenhams' new CEO

The ailing department store business has named “experienced turnaround expert” Stefaan Vansteenkiste as chief executive officer, with hopes he will take the business “into the next phase of its recovery”. Executive chairman Terry Duddy has revealed he will also step down in September.

Mr Vansteenkiste, who is managing director of professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, joined Debenhams in April this year as chief restructuring officer ahead of a controversial pre-pack administration deal and CVA. At the time it was announced that then-CEO Sergio Bucher would be stepping down from his role, with names of a number of successors bandied around, including Mr Vansteenkiste.

He is described by Debenhams as a “seasoned retail operator”, having served as a CEO or advisor at a number of large retail and consumer companies.

Meanwhile, Terry Duddy has confirmed plans to leave the retailer, staying long enough to ensure a smoot handover to Mr Vansteenkiste, before stepping down from the board in September.

Mr 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 full support of our investor consortium to drive forward our turnaround plan.”

Mr 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.”

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