Debenhams ousts bosses and calls in lenders

Chairman Ian Cheshire and CEO Sergio Bucher were given the elbow after Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley and retail billionaire Micky Jagtiani voted against their positions

Following disappointing Christmas trading figures, Debenhams has lost its chairman and CEO from its boardroom after two major shareholders voted against their reappointment.

Sir Ian Cheshire has been chairman of the struggling retailer since 2016 and stepped down immediately after the vote.

Meanwhile, CEO Sergio Bucher, who was appointed by Cheshire from Amazon, chose to stay on at the retailer after his director position was revoked.

Sports Direct owner and British retail tycoon Mike Ashley was among the shareholders to vote against the duo along with Indian retail billionaire Micky Jagtiani, who controls Dubai-based retail stores group Landmark.

Ashley and Jagtiani own 30% and 7% respectively of the business.

Cheshire said: “It has been a great privilege to get to know my Debenhams colleagues over the past three years.

“Whilst it is right that I step down today, I wish the team at Debenhams every success in the future.”

Terry Duddy, Debenhams’ Senior Independent Director, has been appointed interim chairman with immediate effect.

He said: "I recognise that individual shareholders have wished to register their dissatisfaction.

“I would like to thank Ian for his strong leadership of the board and his contribution to the business. We wish him all the best for the future.”

The announcement follows hot on the heels of Debenhams’ dismal Christmas sales, with a reported 5.7% sales drop in the 18 weeks to 5 January.

The firm is now reported to be in talks with lenders as it looks to bring in new sources of funding for the year ahead.