// Debenhams set to name Mark Gifford as its new chair
// The appointment could be confirmed by the end of this week, Sky News reports.
// Gifford worked for House of Fraser for more than a decade and was also Game CFO
Debenhams is reportedly on the verge of announcing the appointment of former House of Fraser and Game executive Mark Gifford as its new chair.
According to Sky News, the department store retailer is poised to confirm Gifford’s appointment by the end of this week.
He would become the chair of Debenham’s parent company, Celine Holdings – which is the consortium of lenders that took control of the retailer earlier this year after it fell into administration.
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Gifford spent 13 years House of Fraser, where he was chief financial officer.
He left the Debenhams rival in 2015 to become chief financial officer at Game, a position he held for two and a half years.
He is currently the chairman of upmarket accessories retailer Radley London and a non-executive director at Ann Summers’ parent company GGI.
Should his appointment as Debenhams’ new chair be confirmed, his immediate remit would be to assist chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste during the crucial fourth quarter, which comprises the peak Christmas trading period.
Vansteenkiste is a restructuring veteran from Alvarez & Marsal who became Debenhams’ chief executive during summer.
Earlier this month, Debenhams secured an extra £50 million of funding to provide it with additional liquidity and to help it get through the crucial Christmas trading period.
The struggling department store said some of its current lenders within Celine Holdings had agreed to stump up the extra money on “substantially” the same terms as a £200 million loan in March.
When Celine Holdings took control of Debenhams in spring, it launched a CVA which recently cleared a major obstacle in the High Court so it can push on with its plans to bring the business back to profitability.
The department store chain 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, Debenhams will eventually close down a total of 50 of its 166 stores.
Thousands of jobs are estimated to be cut as a result of the CVA process.