Dec 10, 2019
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Ex-Argos chief joins Debenhams board as non-exec director

Dec 10, 2019

Two industry veterans have joined the board of Debenhams’ parent company, Celine Jersey Topco Limited, in non-executive director roles.


John Walden was the CEO of Argos and its parent company Home Retail Group plc until its sale to Sainsbury’s in 2016. Prior to that, he held senior management roles at two of America’s largest consumer goods retailers, Best Buy and Sears, and served as chairman of Holland & Barrett International. He currently sits on the Naked Wines board as chairman.

Kevin Conroy is the founder and CEO of Conroy Media, a media buying agency working with early stage and high growth companies. He was formerly president of digital & media for MGM Inc, and throughout his career he held a range of senior global, strategic and operational roles at Univision, AOL and Bertelsmann, among others. 

“We are delighted to appoint two such distinguished figures to the board,” said Mark Gifford, Chairman of Celine Jersey Topco Limited.

“John brings multi-line and multi-channel expertise with a deep understanding of the UK retail environment, while Kevin's digital/online experience and entrepreneurial background, with a wide-ranging international perspective will be very valuable.”

Mark Gifford himself is also new to the Debenhams board, having been appointed in October to steer the retailer through a turnaround. Now controlled by Celine Jersey Topco Limited, a new company set up by its lenders, Debenhams has a “supportive investor group, substantial resources and a clear plan” to stage a bounce back, Gifford said.

The Christmas period will be particularly crucial for the department store group’s finances, after raising a £50 million loan from some of its existing lenders. Although the company is now supported by new owners, it continues to have liquidity issues, so the funding was needed to see it through the festive season.

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