Dominic Prendergast tends to go where there's a challenge. Turning around a much loved but ailing store in the teeth of the worst recession in history is certainly that.
The new Clerys CEO started his retail career at UK store Allder's and went on to its airport duty frees. He then worked for BHS, Mothercare owner Storehouse and at the Early Learning Centre.
He joined chocolate retailer Thornton's in 2001, after it announced a series of profit warnings and shares were at rock bottom. When he left, stock price had trebled.
His next gig was in 2008 at Jessops, then heavily in debt. "We got through Christmas, then I spent much of 2009 in Canary Wharf convincing banks there was a business to invest in. Now 2,000 people work there," he says.
For Clerys, "the priority is to deliver Christmas," he says. "The immediate goal is to put brakes on negative performance. Christmas will be our foundation, then we'll accelerate in the New Year."
He has worked for Clerys owner Gordon Brothers before. "The culture is a fair one. They thrive on delivering results. BoI has been very supportive," he adds.
Online retail is key, he says, as are new concessions in fashion and home, which are being negotiated for 2013. "The first part is crucial, to show there is a business in that fantastic iconic building. Thereafter we'll take stock. We've got a lot of work to do to get Clerys back where it needs to be. Department stores have futures."