// Debenhams announces departure of CFO Rachel Osborne after a year in the job
// She will be succeeded by current finance director Mike Hazell following a handover period
// Hazell has been with Debenhams since 2010
Debenhams has announced Mike Hazell as its new chief financial officer, replacing Rachel Osborne who is stepping down after a year in the role.
Hazell, who will step into the role following a handover period, has been with Debenhams since 2010.
He previously held finance roles at Sky and Pfizer and along with his finance chief duties he will also have a spot on Debenhams’ board.
Meanwhile, Osborne is stepping down to become chief financial officer with Ted Baker.
- Debenhams’ CVA High Court victory: What experts say
- High Court rejects Sports Direct-backed lawsuit on Debenhams CVA
- Sports Direct wants to “drive Debenhams into administration” in CVA lawsuit, court told
Debenhams chief executive officer Stefaan Vansteenkiste said: “I am pleased that we have such a strong internal candidate for the CFO role, with Mike having played a key part in the refinancing and restructuring activity over the past 12 months.
“I look forward to working with him and the rest of the leadership team on delivering our turnaround plan.”
Osborne was one of the few original board members that remained after Debenhams went through a period of refinancing and falling under the ownership of a consortium of lenders when it fell into administration earlier this year.
She was also singled out as the one board member that should remain when Mike Ashley – whose firm Sports Direct used to be Debenhams’ biggest shareholder with a near-30 per cent stake – attempted to gain control the department store before lenders took control in April.
Prior to joining Debenhams a year ago, Osborne worked as chief financial officer for Domino’s Pizza, which she left with immediate effect in June 2018 after less than two years in the role.
Osborne’s departure comes a week after Debenhams claimed victory in the High Court, winning a legal challenge against its CVA that was launched soon after lenders took control of the business.
The department store had been taken to court by Combined Property Control Group (CPC) – the landlord of six Debenhams stores in England – over the argument that its CVA was “designed to create a situation in which the company’s general body of unsecured creditors is paid in full at the expense of certain landlords and local authorities”.
CPC’s legal challenge was financially supported by Sports Direct, which dropped its own legal challenge against Debenhams in July.
However, High Court judge Justice Norris rejected CPC’s challenge on four of the five grounds addressed.
The remaining ground was addressed by the deletion of a technical provision of the CVA relating to landlord forfeiture.
While it can be appealed, Norris’ ruling gives Debenhams the final green light to push ahead with its CVA.
The department store said stores will operate as usual until Christmas, but by January 2020 it will shut down 22 stores and rent reductions or lease negotiations on a further 105 stores will have been sought.
After the initial batch of store closures, the department store will eventually close down a total of 50 of its 166 stores.
Thousands of jobs are estimated to be cut as a result of Debenhams’ CVA process.