Debenhams CEO plans exit, as shareholder stakes wiped out
Published: 18 April 2019 - Fiona Garcia
Sergio Bucher is reportedly planning to step down from his role at the department store chain within the next few days, following the appointment of administrators and the suspension of shares, announced last week.
The de-listing of shares, announced on April 10, was the final act in a tumultuous few weeks for the struggling chain, as House of Fraser and Sports Director owner Mike Ashley said recent events mark “the end of this sorry chapter in Debenhams' history”.
The 206-year-old retailer entered into a pre-pack administration deal on Tuesday, April 9, where the business was immediately sold to a newly-incorporated company controlled by its secured lenders in return for reducing Debenhams’ £600million debt.
The move effectively wiped out all shareholder stakes, including that of Mr Ashley, who owned 29.7% of the department store business and had been involved in a wrangle with the board over control of the business for some time. He called the pre-pack administration and handling of the business “nothing short of a national scandal”, adding: “Recent events - which have culminated in this disastrous outcome - were totally avoidable and represent the complete destruction of shareholder value.”
News outlets have quoted a source close to Sergio Bucher as saying: ““Having stayed on and got the refinancing in place, Sergio thinks now would be the right moment to move on… The upcoming restructuring can then be led by someone offering a fresh start.”
Mr Bucher, who took the helm in October 2016, had already been voted off the Debenhams board by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct and another major shareholder, Landmark Group, who opposed his proposed re-election in January.
Several names have been thrown into the ring as Mr Bucher’s replacement Debenhams’, including Debenhams interim chairman Terry Duddy, and Stefaan Vansteenkiste, managing director of consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal.