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Debenhams taps retail veteran to join board

Published
today Jan 29, 2020
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The parent company of Debenhams said on Wednesday it has appointed Stephen Sunnucks as a non-executive director.


Debenhams


Sunnucks, who served as the chief executive officer of New Look for four years until a management buyout in 2004, will join the board of Celine Jersey Topco Limited.

He is well known in the industry for his work at major clothing brands. Sunnucks started his career at Marks & Spencer before joining Sainsbury’s to become director of non-food. He spent five years as the managing director of Dorothy Perkins, and left the leadership at New Look with £7 million in shares and options.

Later he took the chairmanship of Phase Eight and Fat Face, and was recruited to join Gap Inc as president of the European business, eventually rising to global president of the American retailer.

After leaving Gap in 2014, Sunnucks became a non-executive director at Superdry, a role he no longer holds. He is currently the chairman of Norwegian outdoor brand Helly Hansen and a senior advisor for Alix Partners’ retail practice.

"Stephen’s reputation in the retail industry is second to none,” said Mark Gifford, chairman of Celine Jersey Topco Limited.

“He has been involved in various turnaround and restructuring situations both in the public and private sphere and has strong apparel credentials. His appointment completes our board, which blends breadth of experience and skills with strategic insight and understanding.” 

Sunnucks’ appointment follows that of Beatrice Lafon earlier this month. The investor group that controls Debenhams since it fell into administration in 2019 also hired Abigail Comber, an expert in brand strategy, as chief marketing officer earlier in January.

The strengthened management team will receive support from the board of directors as the company embarks on a turnaround journey. The chairman said Debenhams has access to “substantial funding” to navigate the next phase with confidence. 

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