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Troubled waters – Cenkos plots changes for Debenhams


City Broker Cenkos is making bold moves towards instigating a change of leadership at department store giant, Debenhams, with a particular focus on CEO Michael Sharp.

People familiar with the situation said that Cenkos is reportedly working to gauge levels of dissatisfaction amongst major shareholders in the company, and may have approached two potential replacements for Sharp.

Debenhams has suffered from dissatisfaction with Sharp’s leadership since he issued the shock profit warning in January 2013. The retailer warned that the snowfall would greatly reduce its profits for the first half of the year. As a result of this prediction, and the impact of poor January sales, Debenhams stock prices quickly plummeted.

Debenhams has also received negative commentary from the majority shareholder of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley. Although Sports Direct, which has a shareholding in Debenhams, is not one of the voices calling for change, Ashley bluntly described the department chain’s mix of brands and own label products as “crap.”

CEO Dave Forsey said last July that Sports Direct had “no appetite to do anything with Debenhams”, aside from possibly opening Sports Direct concessions in their stores.

Levels of dissatisfaction and the chance of Cenkos pushing for a change in management will likely be dependent on Debenhams’ full year financial results, which will be released in October.

Published on Wednesday 23 September by Philip Gallagher

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