Debenhams CEO Sergio Bucher is reportedly expected to step down within the next few days, a week after the department store chain fell into administration and was taken over by its lenders.
A source close to Bucher told the BBC: "Having stayed on and got the refinancing in place, Sergio thinks now would be the right moment to move on. The upcoming restructuring can then be led by someone offering a fresh start.”
Former Amazon executive Bucher joined Debehmans in October 2016 and hoped to spearhead the department store’s growth into an omnichannel retail destination. Since then however, the company has fallen victim to the country’s harsh retail conditions, and has posted multiple weak results and profit warnings. In October 2018 it posted its biggest loss in the company’s history - a loss of 491.5 million pounds in the year to September, against profits of 59 million pounds the year before.
Last week Debenhams fell into administration and appointed joint administrators from FTI Consulting, who immediately sold the company’s shares to its lenders in a pre-pack deal to reduce the retailer’s 600 million pound debt - a move that effectively wiped out its shareholders’ investments in the company, including Mike Ashley’s near 30 percent stake. In a letter sent last week to joint administrators from FTI and seen by the Guardian, Sports Direct lawyers called for the insolvency process to be reversed and for the advisory firm to be removed as administrators due to a conflict of interests.
The pre-pack administration has seen the retailer receive a 200 million pound line of credit to fund a restructuring scheme, but does not affect the retailer's pension scheme, suppliers, landlords or its immediate trading plans. Debenhams is expected to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), a form of insolvency that would enable the company to seek rent cuts and close unwanted stores, in the coming weeks.
Photo credit: Debenhams press centre