Jan 10, 2019
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Debenhams exec shock, CEO voted off board, chairman quits

Jan 10, 2019

There was a huge upset at Debenhams on Thursday as the company saw a major shareholder losing patience with its top two executives. The result is that its chairman stepped down after the annual general meeting and the chief executive has been voted off the board.


And who was the major shareholder? Mike Ashley, the head of Sports Direct and also of Debenhams rival House of Fraser. The company that he runs owns almost 30% of Debenhams and blocked the reappointment of the chairman and CEO to the board after a Christmas trading statement had been released in the morning that showed the company’s sales falling further.

Sir Ian Cheshire has been chairman since 2016 and told the company he would step down with immediate effect after not only Sports Direct but another major shareholder, Landmark, voted against him.

Terry Duddy, the senior independent director at Debenhams has been appointed as interim chairman.

CEO Sergio Bucher will continue in his role even though he was ousted from the board by Ashley and Landmark. The board said it had “full confidence in Sergio and in the management’s plan to reshape the business”. It’s extremely unusual for a major listed company in the UK to have a chief executive who isn't also a board member.

Mike Ashley has grown increasingly frustrated with struggling Debenhams which he said had refused to accept an offer of a £40 million loan last month.

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