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Debenhams in talks with ex-House of Fraser CFO for chairman role

Published
today Oct 24, 2019
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Mark Gifford, a former finance chief at House of Fraser, is believed to be in the running to become the new chairman of Debenhams.



The UK’s biggest department store chain could announce his appointment as soon as this week, Sky News reported, citing insider sources at Celine Holdings, the holding company for Debenhams' retail operations.

The retailer has been looking for a new executive chairman since August, when Terry Duddy announced he was stepping down. He has essentially handed over the reigns of the troubled company to Stefaan Vansteenkiste, who was promoted from chief restructuring officer to CEO in the same month. 

Securing Gifford’s support could be crucial in Debenhams’ fight for survival. He spent more than a decade at House of Fraser before joining entertainment retailer Game Group as its chief financial officer in 2015.

Gifford currently sits on the board of Ann Summers, the lingerie chain.

Earlier in October, Debenhams secured a £50 million cash injection to help see the business through the festive period, which is traditionally the most lucrative time of year for UK retailers.

The funding is part of wider efforts to implement a turnaround at the clothing chain, which is set to close approximately 20 stores early next year. As much as 50 Debenhams shops have been earmarked for closure in the next few years, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

Debenhams is now owned by a group of lenders-turned investors, who own big stakes in the business through the Celine holding company.

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