Jan 20, 2020
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Debenhams names turnaround expert to board

Jan 20, 2020

Debenhams cannot stop talking about restructuring as new CEO Stefaan Vansteenkiste attempts to save the troubled department store chain. And the retailer’s parent company now has a board member who has worked in a variety of retail and turnaround situations.

Celine Jersey Topco Limited announced on Monday that Beatrice Lafon will be joining the board as a non-executive director.

She brings a wealth of fashion retail experience, having served at several clothing and accessories companies over the past few years. This is particularly important given Vansteenkiste’s own lack of experience in the sector, although the CEO is an expert in large-scale turnarounds.

Lafon was most recently interim CEO at Pimkie, the European fashion retailer. Prior to that, she spent five years at Claire’s Stores Inc, the global accessories and jewellery retailer, taking the role of CEO from 2014 to 2016. 

She also sits on the board of Solent Group, a multi-category design and distribution business; and Orsay, a European womenswear retailer trading across 30 countries.

“I am so pleased that Beatrice has agreed to join our board. Her variety of experience and track record of turnaround expertise brings another dimension to the group,” said Mark Gifford, chairman of Celine Jersey Topco.

“We continue to strengthen the board to support Stefaan and the operational team with wide-ranging skills and knowledge and strategic perspective. Having made good progress in our restructuring plans and with our supportive investor group and access to substantial funding, Debenhams is well set to implement a turnaround.”

The retail chain is closing nearly 20 stores this month and is currently negotiating a buyout of its executive pension schemes with Aviva.

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