Debenhams CEO Sergio Bucher to exit

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Mike Ashley Debenhams
// Debenhams chief executive Sergio Bucher set to be ousted by new consortium of owners
// Sources say outgoing CEO believes it’s time for a “fresh start”
// Stefaan Vansteenkiste reported to be in the running to take over from Bucher
// Current interim chairman Terry Duddy could also take up CEO position

Debenhams’ chief executive Sergio Bucher is said to be planning to step down within the next few days, following a rollercoaster ride of announcements for the department store last week.

The 206-year-old retailer entered pre-pack administration last Tuesday, where its PLC business was immediately sold to a newly-incorporated company controlled by secured lenders in return for reducing the retailer’s £600 million debt.

The move effectively wiped out its largest shareholder Sports Direct, leaving its boss Mike Ashley without a stake in the department store.

Last last week reports cited by Sky News suggested consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal’s managing director Stefaan Vansteenkiste could be drafted in by Debenhams’ new consortium of owners to restructure the struggling chain.

Over the weekend it emerged that Bucher may have been planning an exit all along.

He has steered Debenhams since arriving in October 2016, presiding over a tumultuous time for the retailer who last year revealed a historic statutory loss of £491.5 million.

A source close to Bucher told BBC News: “Having stayed on and got the refinancing in place, Sergio thinks now would be the right moment to move on.”

“The upcoming restructuring can then be led by someone offering a fresh start,” the source added.

Another name being mentioned is Debenhams’ chairman Terry Duddy, who could be chosen by the consortium owners to take on an executive role.

Duddy has worked as interim chairman since January, when Bucher was voted off the board by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct and and another major shareholder, Landmark Group.

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