Debenhams confirms Radley exec is its new chairman
Debenhams has confirmed that Radley’s chairman Mark Gifford, who’s also an ex-House of Fraser and Game executive, is its new chairman. Speculation around the appointment at the department store chain has been intense this week as the company continues its turnaround drive.
Debenhams said he will bring it “a wealth of experience in large-scale turnarounds, bringing stability to retail businesses and delivering change and growth in the consumer sector”.
Gifford will actually become a director and chairman of Celine Jersey Topco Ltd. This is the entity that controls Debenhams on behalf of the consortium of its lenders and investors who took over the retail chain earlier this year following Debenhams plc’s administration filing.
He certainly has a strong track record in the UK retail sector with eight years spent as CFO of major Debenhams rival House of Fraser out of the total 13 years he spent at the chain up to 2015.
After HoF, he joined Game as its CFO, a position he held for two-and-a-half years. As mentioned, he’s currently chairman of mid-market accessories firm Radley and he also has a non-executive role at the parent company of lingerie chain Ann Summers.
His turnaround experience will be much needed as the company continues to fight back to health in a UK retail market that remains challenging. He’ll be working with still-new CEO Stefaan Vansteenkiste, who comes from a restructuring background having been with Alvarez & Marsal.
“We are delighted that Mark will be joining the parent board to work with our investor consortium, who have confirmed their continuing commitment through providing additional liquidity for our peak trading,” Vansteenkiste said. “Mark’s expertise and understanding of business change as well as the retail industry will be invaluable. I look forward to working with him as we deliver the turnaround of the group.”
Gifford himself also highlighted the strong backing from the firm’s “supportive investor group with substantial resources”, and said the “experienced management team” has “a clear plan to deliver a turnaround.”
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