independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Debenhams finance chief quits days after profit warning

File photo dated 9/1/2013 of a Debenhams store in Swindon, Wiltshire. The finance boss Simon Herrick has resigned just days after the department store chain's shock profits warning following disappointing Christmas trading.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday January 2, 2014. See PA story CITY Debenhams. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire
File photo dated 9/1/2013 of a Debenhams store in Swindon, Wiltshire. The finance boss Simon Herrick has resigned just days after the department store chain's shock profits warning following disappointing Christmas trading. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday January 2, 2014. See PA story CITY Debenhams. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Debenhams said today its Finance Director Simon Herrick had quit, two days after the British retailer issued a sharp profit warning due to poor Christmas trading.

Herrick, who had held the role for two years, was already under fire after he asked suppliers for a discount and a one-off contribution in the days running up to the key festive period, according to local media reports.

The company said a search to find a replacement was underway.

Whoever takes the job will be tasked with rebuilding confidence among investors after the group issued its second profit warning in less than a year. Its shares are down almost 40pc in the last 12 months.

In the downgrade delivered on Tuesday, it cut its first-half profit forecast by almost 25pc after the hoped-for surge in last-minute Christmas shopping failed to materialise.

Debenhams, Britain's second-largest department store group, attributed the latest warning to fierce discounting on the high street, but the group was already struggling as it failed to keep up with rivals John Lewis, House of Fraser and Next .

John Lewis, the employee-owned biggest department store, reported like-for-like sales up 6.9pc in the five weeks to December 28, while House of Fraser sales were up 7.3pc in the last three weeks.

Neil Kennedy, director of finance, will assume the role of acting chief financial officer at Debenhams on an interim basis.

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