Debenhams boss Sergio Bucher ‘expected to step down’
Debenhams boss Sergio Bucher is expected to step down following the struggling department store chain’s recent takeover by its lenders.
“Having stayed on and got the refinancing in place, Sergio thinks now would be the right moment to move on,” a source close to him told the BBC.
“The upcoming restructuring can then be led by someone offering a fresh start,” the source added.
The retailer was taken over less than a week ago after entering administration.
The group of lenders that now owns Debenhams – including banks such as Barclays and US hedge funds such as Silver Point and Golden Tree – have provided the retailer with £200m in funding.
The group said it had “extensive turnaround experience, which we will deploy to support the management’s turnaround plan”.
It also said it intended to “work closely with management and the board to position Debenhams for a long-term successful future”.
“We are pleased that now under new ownership, the business can look forward with confidence,” they added.
Mr Bucher had already been voted off the retailer’s board after major shareholders, Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, and Landmark Group, voted against Mr Bucher’s re-election in January.
Sports Direct founder Mr Ashley – who held a near 30% stake in Debenhams – made several offers to take it over.
However, his final offer of £200m was rejected because it was conditional on him becoming chief executive.
Mr Ashley subsequently described the Debenhams takeover as a “national scandal” and called for the administration process to be reversed.
Debenhams is the biggest department store chain in the UK with 166 stores. It employs about 25,000 people.
Its stores will continue to trade as normal during the initial restructuring process, before closures begin next year.
As well as the planned closures, it has also been renegotiating rents with landlords to tackle its funding problems.
It has not released a list of which shops may be shut.
Debenhams is one of a string of well-known names suffering in a tough High Street environment.
Last year, Poundworld, Toys R Us and Maplin all went bust and disappeared altogether.
Other household names – Homebase, Mothercare, Carpetright and New Look – were forced into restructuring deals with their landlords, closing hundreds of stores.
Music chain HMV recently fell into administration before being bought.
The increasing popularity of online shopping, higher business rates, rising labour costs and the fall in the pound following the Brexit vote – which has increased the cost of imported goods – have been blamed for contributing to retailers’ woes.