Debenhams ‘in final stages’ of appointing new chief executive
- Credit: PA
Department store chain Debenhams has said it is “in the final stages” of appointing a new chief executive as boss Michael Sharp confirmed his resignation on unveiling a rise in half-year profits.
Mr Sharp, who announced plans in October to leave this year, said he has now handed in his resignation, but still plans to remain at the helm until his successor is appointed.
The group said the appointment process was “well advanced” and recently hired chairman Sir Ian Cheshire added that an announcement is expected in the next few weeks.
Confirmation of Mr Sharp’s resignation comes alongside a solid set of half-year results, with a 5.5% rise in group pre-tax profits to £93.8 million for the six months to February 27.
But group like-for-like sales growth slowed to 1.1%, down from 1.9% over the Christmas season.
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Its 165 UK stores saw sales rise 2.9%, offsetting a 3.7% fall at the international arm as it was hit by currency exchange rates.
In his last set of results before bowing out, Mr Sharp said the chain put in a “strong” half-year performance, shrugging off the recent gloom from rivals such as Next and Marks & Spencer.
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Next sent shockwaves through the clothing sector last month when it warned the year ahead was set to be the “toughest we have faced since 2008” as it cautioned over profits, while Marks & Spencer last week posted another hefty sales fall in its clothing division, down 2.7%.
Mr Sharp said: “Although there is plenty more to do, we are on track to deliver full year results in line with market expectations.
“When I leave the business later this year I am confident that it will be in a good position to deliver continued sustainable growth under a strong and capable management team.”
Shares in the group rose more than 3% after the half-year results.