// Debenhams appoints British Airways veteran Abigail Comber as its new chief marketing officer
// She will join the department store on January 7
// She spent 24 years at BA, with highlights including the airline’s sponsorship of Team GBR at the 2012 London Olympics
Debenhams has appointed British Airways veteran Abigail Comber as its new chief marketing officer.
She will join the department store on January 7 and will take over the marketing function currently being managed on an interim basis by Erin Brookes.
Comber spent 24 years with BA, with her most recent roles being head of customer experience and global head of brands and marketing.
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At the airline, Comber’s portfolio included brand strategy, marketing, customer experience design, partnerships, sponsorship, and community relations.
One of her notable highlights included leading BA’s acclaimed sponsorship of the UK teams at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.
Since leaving BA in May 2018, she has worked with businesses developing turnaround plans led by marketing and customer experience.
Comber joins Debenhams at a crucial time, as it ramps up turnaround efforts through a major CVA, which will 19 store closures this month between January 11 and 25.
“Her track record speaks for itself and her experience and understanding of customer engagement and developing digital service initiatives will be particularly important as we continue to work on transforming Debenhams into a business that can compete effectively in the rapidly-changing retail environment,” chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste said.
“I look forward to her joining our senior team and playing a key part in delivering the turnaround of the group.”
Comber said: “With 19 million customers in the UK in stores and online, the opportunity to play an important part in developing Debenhams’ customer proposition for the next decade is really exciting.
“I am delighted to be joining Stefaan and the team to help build a successful future for one of the UK’s best-known retail businesses.”
After Debenhams completes its initial batch of store closures, a further 28 are reportedly set to close in 2021 – bringing it to a total of 47 store closures in its current estate if 166.
Rent reductions or lease negotiations on its remaining estate will also have been sought.
Thousands of jobs are estimated to be cut as a result of Debenham’s CVA process.